7 Best Tents For Stargazing According To Thrilled Buyers 
You’ve planned for this camping trip for weeks.
There’s a clear night that will be perfect to witness some awesome shooting stars and you’ve decided to leave the tent at home to maximize star viewing! You get to the spot, roll out your sleeping bag and wait for night to fall.
But all of the sudden, the wind picks up and in rolls a thunderstorm! You’re completely exposed, and your sleeping bag gets drenched! How could this perfect stargazing night turn sour so quickly?
Two words: no tent!
The reason why that scenario felt so real is that I’ve experienced it a time or two! At Gear Up Hiking, we’ve dedicated ourselves to finding the best tents for stargazing so that we can help you witness the glory of a night sky while avoiding the catastrophe of being caught in a sudden thunderstorm!
To provide you with this expertly researched list, we went beyond what other resources do. Besides doing intensive research online reading reviews and comparing features, we actually tested some tents ourselves.
Furthermore, we consulted fellow hikers who used each tent for their unbiased opinion. You know, often solo testing a product is far from being objective!
Then, we also discussed the pros and cons of each tent as well as its performance with industry experts from REI and Backcountry.
Our sole was to deliver you a useful guide that contains not only reviews, but also valuable advice on choosing the right tent for your budget.
Plus other golden nuggets that I will mention later.
Our Top 2 Recommendations
- Large mesh panels on the side for unobstructed view to the sky
- 2-Person capacity
- Stargazing Fly™ allows you to open and close the rain fly when you're in the tent
- Lightweight DAC Press-fit poles for easy set up
And if you need something on a budget:
- 2-Person capacity
- Only 4 lbs., approved for long distance hikes
- Detachable structure to strip off more weight
- Seam taped construction shields you against bad weather
The Best Tents For Stargazing Compared
|Kelty Dirt Motel||Check Price At Amazon|
|Marmot Crane Creek||Check Price At Amazon|
|Big Agnes BlackTail||Check Price At Amazon|
|Alps Mountaineering Chaos||Check Price At Amazon|
|Mountain Hardware Mineral King||Check Best Price|
|Featherstone||Check Price At Amazon|
|Teton Sports Quick Tent||Check Price At Amazon|
#1 Kelty Dirt Motel
With a Stargazing Fly™ that you can roll back when in the tent to provide maximum stargazing potential, the Kelty Dirt Motel is the best tent you can buy. The roll back fly is secured at the top of the tent, but can easily be rolled back into position if the weather changes! And with its innovative pole design, you can sit up in this tent with ease, which is a huge plus for taller campers!
Kelty has been around for a long time, which means that they know how to make a quality tent. I’m a big fan of their hiking backpacks because they are high quality and at the same time affordable. The same applies to their tents.
On a side note, we included the tried-and-true Kelty Redwing pack as a best choice in our list of the top-rated laptop packs for hiking and the glorious Kelty Coyote model in our popular list of the best long-hailing backpacks of 2021.
The design of the Dirt Motel is centered around the idea for allowing maximum stargazing, while also keeping the rainfly in position to cover the tent at a moment’s notice.
This feature is amazing, because it gives you the peace of mind that you’ll be able to stay dry should the weather suddenly change.
This model is the updated version of the celebrated Kelty TN tent. The main improvements are:
- removal of the laminated window which was a bit flimsy and somewhat difficult to use
- decrease in the overall weight
- reinforcement of the bathtub floor
- the Shark Mouth storage sack that makes storing and transporting the tent easier
The Dirt Motel weighs in at just under 5 pounds, making it the ideal 2-person tent to bring into the backcountry. It easily can be carried by 2 people, which will help distribute the load and keep your legs fresh for climbing up steep inclines.
Tall campers rejoice at the size of the interior of the Dirt Motel!
At 84” long, you and your hiking partner can fully stretch out while you gaze at the night sky. This is matched by the pole design that maximizes the height of the ceiling, which gives campers plenty of room to sit up.
And that will help with getting ready to go in the morning while enjoying the privacy from within the tent. The innovative pole design really helps the 28 sq. ft. seem much larger than it really is!
The DAC press-fit poles consisting of two hubbed poles and one ridge pole, allow for larger living space. That’s because conveniently, this set up creates vertical walls to maximize space.
Another feature that we especially liked is that the tent is freestanding. That means that you can set it up and then move it if you wish to change campsite.
The Dirt Motel is a great tent for camping in just about any condition! It’s rated as a 3-season tent due to the large mesh panels that make up the sidewalls.
The floor is seam-sealed and waterproof (3000 mm rating), which will give you peace of mind that you’ll stay dry through the night. Kelty's epic Stargazing Fly™ allows you to open and close the rain fly when you're inside the tent. Pretty neat!
As for the fabrics, the tent uses 40D rip stop nylon for the rain fly that is water resistant as per 1500 mm rating. Logically, the tent floor is more durable, made of polyurethane and 70D nylon that’s waterproof.
Setting up the Dirt Motel is an absolute breeze. The tent poles and body are color coded so that you can easily tell which pole goes where. This ensures fast and correct set up on the first time, every time!
Last but not least, the tent is easily packable thanks to the Shark mouth stuff sack that’s included in the tent purchase. The weight of this tent is 4 lbs.
#2 Marmot Crane Creek
If you’re looking to save on money and not on durability, the Marmot Crane Creek might be the choice for you and your hiking partner. Ideal for backpacking and camping, it's also one of the most durable tents on this list, coming with 7000 series aluminum tent poles. This makes sure that one of the most vulnerable spots on the tent to break or bent will stand up against the rigors of backcountry camping!
Marmot is a well-known brand that produces high quality mountain gear. They’re a brand that you can trust to create tents that will keep you warm and dry, but also allow you to get immersed fully in the outdoors.
The Crane Creek is an excellent tent for backpackers that are just getting into the sport. With a low cost and high durability, it really is the perfect first backpacking tent. Weighing in at 5lbs 5oz., the Crane Creek comes in a bit heavy compared to the Kelty Dirt Motel.
But what for what it lacks in being lighter, it makes up for in a larger floor space. The Crane Creek has a floor area that is 32 sq. ft., which will help with organizing gear and spreading out while in camp. The ceiling of the Crane Creek is 43 in. which is just under the 46 in. ceiling height of the Dirt Motel.
The floor and rainfly are seam-sealed, just like in the Dirt Motel, which will keep you dry, no matter what the weather does. So you can smile to the bad weather.
One of the biggest differences with the Crane Creek and the Dirt Motel is the rainfly roll back feature. The Crane Creek offers campers large open spaces to view the stars, but without the rainfly attached.
There isn’t a roll back feature like there is on the Dirt Motel, so leaving the rainfly off for the night does come with the added risk of having to quickly throw it on in the middle of the night if it begins to rain. It’s a two-season tent, best used in spring and summer. Not advised for winter backpacking or if you need to spend a night outdoors.
If you’re not worried about it raining, the Crane Creek is an excellent starter tent for those who are looking to get into the backcountry to view the stars!
The weight of this bestselling tent is 4 lbs.13 oz.
#3 Big Agnes BlackTail
As one of the lightest tents on this list, the Big Agnes Blacktail is an excellent choice for those who want to go further into the backcountry for their stargazing pursuits. The lightweight materials are also very strong, and will keep you safe and dry even if it pours rain all night!
The Big Agnes Blacktail is a 3-season backpacking tent, quite popular among hikers and campers. Weighing in at just 4lbs 8oz., it can easily be split between 2 hikers or carried by 1 hiker over a decent number of miles.
Like the Crane Creek, the Blacktail comes with color coded rainfly buckles, so that you can set up your tent with ease.
This is a must have feature for backpackers who want to log big miles on the day and spend more time in camp resting than fiddling with setting up their tent.
Big Agnes also kept in mind that when the rainfly is up that condensation lining the inside of the rainfly presents a real threat of getting campers wet.
With that in mind, the rainfly is designed with 2 spots that open up at the top of the rainfly to allow for proper ventilation, while not sacrificing the protection offered by the rainfly.
The large mesh panels keep bugs off of you, while also revealing the glory of the night sky. But just like the Crane Creek, you’ll need to leave the rainfly completely off of your tent if you want to view the stars at night.
If you’re camping on a warm, dry night, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are worried about rain rolling in during the night, you’ll want to be comfortable throwing the rainfly on quickly in the dark!
The weight of the BlackTail model is 4lb. 8oz. which is quite close to lightweight for a two-person tent.
#4 Alps Mountaineering Chaos
The ALPS Mountaineering Chaos was designed to stand up to the rigors of high alpine camping! Not only will this tent stand up to pouring rain, but also strong winds. If you properly set up the guy lines, this tent will stand up against some of the strongest winds out there. Check it out!
At almost 33.5 sq. ft., the ALPS Mountaineering Chaos tent is one of the most spacious 2-person tents on this list! You and your camping partner will have plenty of room to spread out to view the stars through the large mesh ceiling panels.
Like the Crane Creek, the Chaos comes with 7000 series aluminum tent poles, which makes this tent very durable. You will enjoy it for years to come.
The headspace is a bit short, however. At only 40”, you’ll need to scrunch down a little bit while getting ready for the day if you’re a taller camper.
But for what this tent lacks in headspace, it makes up for in stargazing potential! The mesh ceiling panels and wall panels allow for maximum star viewing potential.
The Chaos is designed as a 3-season tent, but don’t let that stop you from taking it out when the weather cools down.
While it likely won’t be the best tent to take when you’re expecting heavy snow, you can certainly use the Chaos for when temperatures dip down into the 30s.
Like the Crane Creek, the Chaos rain fly comes with a ventilation tab at the top of the rain fly to allow for proper ventilation when the rain fly is on, which prevents condensation from accumulating and soaking you in the middle of the night!
Campers can also make this tent personal to them by choosing from one of the 2 colors that it is offered in. Only the Chaos and the Featherstone tents come in more than one color!
The weight of the tent is a bit too much for hikers, though. It's 5.9 lbs. Definitely not appropriate for longer backpacking trips.
#5 Mountain Hardware Mineral King
The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King is the ideal backpacking tent for 2-3 people. It’s the largest 3-season tent on this list and offers campers plenty of headspace with 48 glorious inches that separate the floor from the ceiling. The poles that come with the Mineral King are made from DAC Pressfit, which is an aluminum alloy that makes them lighter, but just as strong as 7000 series aluminum!
If you’re going backpacking with a partner and your dogs, or with 3 people, the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King is a great option.
Its interior is a spacious 42.5 sq. ft., making it easy for you and your hiking partners to spread out, no matter how much fur they have!
One of the key features of this tent is the bathtub shaped floor. The seams are sewn above where the floor is at, making the bottom of the tent completely waterproof. You won’t need to worry about dew or any other water seeping in through the bottom!
This 3-season tent is excellent for stargazing, as the large mesh panels at the top and the sides of the tent offer a large space for viewing the night sky.
But like the rest of the tents on this list (except the Dirt Motel), you’ll need to completely remove the rain fly to view the stars.
If you’re looking to use this tent for camping in cooler temperatures, you might want to skip it and go with the ALPS Chaos.
The design of the rain fly of the Mineral King doesn’t close off enough space between the bottom of the rain fly and the mesh, which lets cold wind blow into the tent easily.
This is great for camping on a warm night, but not as comfortable during cooler spring and fall weather.
#6 Featherstone 2-Person Backpacking Tent
Pacific Crest Trail approved! This tent is a decent option if you are looking to tally up large amounts of miles, while also saving quite a bit of money. Due to the newness of the Featherstone brand, this tent is very affordable, while extremely well suited for use on long distance trails like the PCT, CDT, and AT. It’s durable enough to help you tackle the triple crown of hiking at a fraction of the price of other major brands!
The Featherstone 2-person backpacking tent is ideal for those who are looking to get the most bang for their buck without sacrificing on quality.
The tent floor, much like the Mineral King, is a bathtub style floor, keeping the seams off of the ground which maximizes its effectiveness at keeping you dry.
At only 4 lbs., this is one of the lightest tents on the list, making it suitable for those who are looking to travel over long distances like the Pacific Crest Trail or Continental Divide Trail.
The lightweight design of this tent doesn’t skimp on interior space, though! With 35 sq. ft. of interior space, you and your hiking partner can both fit nice and snug inside.
The Featherstone 2-person tent also comes with a waterproof rainfly that has ventilation points on top, just like the Crane Creek, Mineral King, and Chaos tents, which will keep you safe from getting wet from condensation build up inside of the tent.
And just like the Chaos, you can choose from 2 colors to make your tent personal to you!
Large mesh ceiling panels make for easy stargazing once the sun has gone down. And just like every tent on this list (except for the Dirt Motel) you’ll need to completely remove the rain fly to view the stars above.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use car camping tent that offers plenty of mesh at the top to view the stars, look no further than the Teton Sports Quick Tent.
One of the key design features of this tent is the pole hub at the very top that allows the user to simply pull on the top of the hub to get all of the poles into place.
This tent comes with a waterproof rain fly that will keep you dry during most rainstorm events. But, if you’re expecting heavy rains, you’ll want to contact the manufacturer to order the Elite Rainfly to provide maximum protection from the elements.
The interior size is a bit small, so even if you were to buy the 2-person size of this tent, you’ll likely want to use it for just 1 person.
Otherwise, you’ll likely sleep pretty cramped all night. If you’re comfortable with your camping partner, this might be ideal! If not, you may want to either buy an additional Teton Sports Quick Tent or just purchase a different tent.
Durability of this tent can also be an issue due to the materials used to make it. While the design of the poles makes set up easy, there aren’t specifics on the quality of aluminum used in the poles, so be wary of what you’re asking this tent to do.
If you are planning on using it in very mild conditions with little wind or rain, this tent is a great economical option.
If you’re wanting to hike it into the backcountry and use it to shelter you from windy and rainy conditions, you might want to go with a different tent.
The weight of tent is 6.6 lbs.(packed weight), making it heavier than most of the other tents on our list. The good thing is that the tent comes with Teton Sports' lifetime warranty.
How To Choose The Best Tent tent for stargazing?
Shopping for a tent can get overwhelming because there are so many different options to choose from. You know the cliché “your tent is your home while in the backcountry”, so it’s important that you spend time researching the best features.
But how will you know what to look for?
Don’t worry, we got you covered. Below you will find the most important features and factors to look after when buying a stargazing tent.
When considering how durable you need your tent to be, you need to consider the following:
- How long do I need this tent to last?
- What sort of weather am I going to take this tent into?
- If the wind blows hard, will the tent buckle under the force of the wind?
In general, you want to look for tents that have tent poles that are rated at 7000 series aluminum or DAC Press-fit at minimum. Anything less than that for pole material construction will likely fail under extreme stress.
The tent body should also be made out of strong material like nylon. Nylon comes in various levels of durability, however.
To determine how durable a nylon material is, you’ll want to pay attention to the denier rating of that material.
Denier is usually notated with the letter D. For example, the material used in the tent floor of the Mineral King tent is made out of 68D nylon. The 68 indicates that the floor is pretty durable for this tent. The higher the number that is in front of the D, the tougher it is. The lower, the less durable.
Keep in mind that the places where you want to have the most durability will be on your tent floor and the rain fly as those are going to be the most likely places to come in contact with the elements.
If the tent walls aren’t rated at very high denier, that’s ok since it likely won’t come in contact with the ground!
Before we jump to the next important section, feel free to read our thorough guide on camping tent parts if you’re not so familiar with all these terms. And here's a nice infographic that explains them all.
When you’re considering which tent to buy, weight really only becomes a factor when you are planning on hiking your tent into where you plan on camping.
Car camping negates the issues of weight, since you’ll only be carrying your tent from the trunk to where you plan on setting it up.
When backpacking, you want to try to limit the weight of your tent as much as you can without sacrificing on durability/quality.
While the tents on this list don’t weigh too much, remember this old proverb for planning your backpacking trip: ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. Save on weight and you’ll save on pain!
Most tents are made out of nylon and polyester, as they are hydrophobic (water resistant) and they resist tearing.
You’ll want to be sure to bring along a tarp or footprint to put under your tent to guard the tent floor against the abrasive ground.
As mentioned earlier, pay attention to the denier rating of the nylon before purchasing a tent. The higher the number, the more durable the nylon is against abrasive surfaces.
The fabrics will also define how fast you could dry your tent if it gets wet. Canvas tents, for examples get more soaked and dry harder.
When considering how you’ll be camping, portability might become a concern. If you’re car camping, you don’t need to worry about portability as much.
But if you’re backpacking, you’ll want to be sure that you can easily roll up and pack down your tent into your backpack.
This is where the material of the tent comes back into play. The denier rating of your tent will also show how thick your tent body is.
The thicker the tent body, the less packable it will be. So when you are considering how high of a denier rating you should go with, you need to consider how big your backpack is and if the tent will compress enough to allow you to store extra gear.
Aside from the denier rating of the tent, you’ll want to consider how you’ll organize your tent poles and stakes.
This problem is easily solvable as the poles and stakes from each of these tents come in a convenient bag that can be separated from the tent to store in various compartments in your pack or divided among hiking partners.
A good rule of thumb for choosing the proper size for your tent is to buy a tent that has 1 more person than you expect to have to share the tent with you. This will ensure you and your hiking partner will have plenty of room to spread out.
You can definitely share a 2-person tent between 2 people, but you’ll likely have little to no room to move around. If you or your partner moves while they are sleeping, you’ll likely end up bumping into one another during the night.
Most of the tents on this list don’t come with windows and have fully meshed side panels. The only tent that does have windows is the Marmot Crane Creek.
The windows are able to be opened via a separate zipper inside of the door of the tent which allows for additional ventilation when open and additional privacy when closed.
If you want to have the option of extending your privacy when the rain fly is off and while you’re inside of your tent, you’ll likely want to buy a tent with windows.
But if you’re not concerned about privacy and you intend to keep your rain fly up at all times, windows aren’t necessary.
Protection from the elements
Aside from tent material and durability, you’ll want to consider the following when choosing a tent that will be able to stand strong against the fiercest storm:
- Floor construction: Bathtub designed floors are great because they eliminate the seams at the bottom of the tent that will let water inside of your tent.
- Seam-sealed construction: Look for the product descriptions to say that all of their seams are sealed to keep the water out of your tent. The seams are the weakest points on your tent, so buying a tent that is seam-sealed will offer the most protection to you against the elements. Remember, not all tents are waterproof.
- Length of the rain fly: If the rain fly doesn’t extend all the way to the ground, you’ll likely have rain and cold air sneak into your tent from the bottom. Be sure to look at how far down the rain fly extends when you’re shopping for a tent that will guard you against anything the weather throws at you.
If you want to heat your tent without electricity on chilly nights, you'd want a well-insulated tent.
The biggest thing to consider here is the design of the poles. Each of the tents on this list have plenty of mesh that makes up their ceilings, but the pole design really impacts how much of the night sky you’re able to see.
Consider how you will be laying down in your tent. Will tent poles be over head and blocking your view?
Is there a specific direction that you need to set your tent up in to maximize your view of the stars or can you set your tent up in any direction without impacting your view of the night sky?
Vestibules are the areas that are created when you have your rain fly attached to your tent. They provide an additional amount of storage space outside of your tent that will keep your gear dry.
When deciding on whether you need vestibules consider:
- Whether the inside of your tent has enough space to store your gear.
- If you’re backpacking or car camping. Car campers don’t need vestibules due to the fact that their extra gear can be stored in their cars. Backpackers might want to have vestibules depending on how much room they have to store their gear inside of their tents.
What makes a tent good for stargazing?
A good stargazing tent is easy to set up, provides a ton of mesh at the top, and limits how much the tent poles block your vision of the night sky.
You’ll also want to consider how easy it is to put the rain fly on in a pinch. If your rain fly is complicated to put on in the daylight, you’ll likely not want to use that tent for stargazing as putting it on quickly when it’s dark will be at least 10 times more difficult.
How to set up a tent for stargazing for maximum results
Proper tent set up starts with proper campsite location. You want to look for a campsite that is in an open space with very few trees nearby.
That way, you can set your tent up, so you can have a full view of the night sky without having trees blocking your view.
After locating the ideal campsite that is clear of trees, you just want to set your tent up like normal! Mesh ceilings make for premium stargazing material while also keeping bugs from eating you alive as you watch the night sky!
Tips to enhance your tent stargazing experience
Be sure to check the weather before you go. Clear nights are ideal for stargazing because clouds won’t block them out.
The time of month you go is also important to consider as well. Pay attention to the moon cycle! The best time to see a blanket of stars above is during a new moon.
That’s when the moon is not visible, due to its relation to the sun. With a new moon, the only thing that will illuminate the sky will be stars!
Also, please bring along a flashlight or headlamp that has a red lens filter! White light ruins your night vision and can detract from other campers’ experiences when you shine it into the dark.
Red light doesn’t travel as far, so you’ll be sure to still see, while also being considerate of those around you.
5 Top places for tent stargazing in the USA
The top 5 best places for stargazing in the US are:
- Joshua Tree National Park, CA
- Death Valley National Park, CA
- Anza-Borrego State Park, CA
- Saguaro National Park, AZ
- Arches National Park, UT
Each of these places are excellent spots to view the stars.
Well, they are in deserts!
Deserts are generally sparsely populated, which means that they are far away from any light sources that will disturb your stargazing.
They are also more likely to have clear nights as they don’t see very much rainfall during the year, which keeps the skies clear for maximum star viewing!
Here’s another good list of places that are awesome for stargazing.
Camping out under a sea of stars truly is a magical experience. You get to feel the depth and vastness of the universe above while you rest securely within your tent!
When you bring the right tent, you are sure to thoroughly enjoy your experience because you can focus on enjoying the stars instead of worrying about what to do if the weather turns for the worse!
Once again, the best tent for stargazing is Kelty Dirt Motel. That’s the tent with the best overall value.
- Large mesh panels on the side for unobstructed view to the sky
- 2-Person capacity
- Stargazing Fly™ allows you to open and close the rain fly when you're in the tent
- Lightweight DAC Press-fit poles for easy set up
Regardless of the tent you buy, be sure to practice setting it up a few times at home before you head out on your camping adventure.
That way, you’ll have enough experience to put your shelter together with ease, leaving you free to enjoy your trip.
Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.