I am assuming you already have a two-person tent, and a friend is crashing your camping trip. A third wheel can be a real bust or add an extra element that makes for a better experience.
If you don’t know whether your two-person tent will sleep three people, then standby because you will find out in this post and much more about various tent sizes and sleeping areas.
A two-person tent will not accommodate three adults. On average two-person tents are 88.0 inches long and 50.9 inches wide. The average adult male and female are 21.5 inches and 18.4 inches wide. Two adults together are 39.9 inches wide, leaving about 11 inches of extra width in an average two-person tent.
If the three people are very comfortable sleeping together, such as nuclear family members with two adults and one child, three people can sleep in an average two-person tent. You will likely be touching each other and waking each other up during the night as you naturally change sleeping positions.
How did I arrive at these numbers? I searched two-person tents for backpacking or hiking on www.rei.com and then sorted them by best sellers.
I took the top ten tents and averaged their dimensions for length and width. I also found data reported on www.healthline.com from the military that measured males’ and females’ full width from shoulder to shoulder, including their upper arms.
Here are the relative lengths and widths of the sleeping area in the top ten best selling two-person tents on www.rei.com.
|Tent||Length inches||Width inches|
|REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint||92||56|
|Marmot Limelight 2P Tent with Footprint||88||54|
|Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 Tent with Footprint||88||54|
|REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 Tent with Footprint||88||52|
|Exped Mira II HL Tent||84.6||51.2|
|NEMO Dagger 2 Tent||90||50|
|The North Face Stormbreak 2 Tent||87||50|
|NEMODragonfly 2 Tent||88||50/45|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent||88||52/42|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Solution-Dyed Tent||86||52/42|
If you are looking to buy a two-person backpacking tent to accommodate three people, the best option on the market is the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint. The ‘2+’ designation might be cheating, but at 56 inches wide, this tent is more than 5 inches wider than the average.
If you do decide to cram three people in a two-person tent you will need to stow your gear in the vestibule(s) outside of the sleeping area.
With 56 inches of width, you could fit three small adults in the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint or a combination of adults and children. Again, it would be tight. For 50 dollars more, you could get the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+ Tent with Footprint. It has much more room being 24 inches wider than the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint.
How Big is a Two-Person Tent?
Two-person tents for backpacking and hiking are not large. Manufactures try to strike a balance between interior volume and carry weight. From the top 10 selling two-person tents on REI, I averaged their width, length, floor area, peak height, and trail weight to provide the average dimensions of a two-person backpacking tent.
An average two-person backpacking tent is 88 inches long, 50.9 inches wide, and has a 31.15 square foot floor space. It has an average peak height of 41.5 inches and has an average trail weight of 3.84 pounds.
|Average Length||87.96 inches|
|Average Width||50.87 inches|
|Average Floor Area||31.15 square feet|
|Average Peak Height||41.53 inches|
|Average Trail Weight||3.84 pounds|
Here are the ten best-selling tents from REI.com that I used to find the size of an average two-person backpacking tent. They are sorted from widest to narrowest sleep areas.
- REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint, L 92 in, W 56 in, Sq Ft 35.8, H 42 in, Trail Weight 3.938 lbs.
- Marmot Limelight 2P Tent with Footprint, L 88 in., W 54 in., Sq Ft 33, H 43 in, Trail Weight 5.125 lbs.
- Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 Tent with Footprint, L 88 in, W 54 in, Sq Ft 33, H 43 in, Trail Weight 5.169 lbs.
- REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 Tent with Footprint, L 88 in., W 52 in., Sq Ft 31.7, H 40 in, Trail Weight 4.875 lbs.
- Exped Mira II HL Tent, L 84.6 in., W 51.2 in., Sq Ft. 30.1, H 43.3 in., Trail Weight 2.875 lbs.
- NEMO Dagger 2 Tent, L 90 in., W 50 in., Sq Ft. 31.3, H 42 in., Trail Weight 3.313 lbs.
- The North FaceStormbreak 2 Tent, L 87 in., W 50 in., Sq Ft. 30.6, H 43 in., Trail Weight 5.313 lbs.
- NEMO Dragonfly 2 Tent, L 88 in., W 50/45 in., Sq Ft 29, H 40 in., Trail Weight 2.625 lbs.
- Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent, L 88 in., W 52/42 in., Sq Ft. 29, H 40 in., Trail Weight 3.0 lbs.
- Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Solution-Dyed Tent, L 86 in., W 52/42 in., Sq Ft. 28, H 39 in., Trail Weight 2.1875 lbs
How Big is a Three-Person Tent?
Like the two-person tents, the three-person tents for backpacking are a tight fit for three adults. Some tents have rectangular floor spaces, while others like the Big Agnes tents have an isosceles trapezoid shape with greater width at the head than at the feet.
I searched the top ten best-selling, three-person, backpacking tents at REI.com. I averaged their dimensions and reported them in the table below.
An average three-person backpacking tent is 88.26 inches long, 68.4 inches wide, and has a 41.71 square foot floor space. It has an average peak height of 45.6 inches and has an average trail weight of 4.52 pounds.
|Average Length||88.26 inches|
|Average Width||68.4 inches|
|Average Floor Area||41.71 square feet|
|Average Peak Height||45.6 inches|
|Average Trail Weight||4.52 pounds|
Should I Get a Two-Person or Three-Person Tent?
The choice of whether you should get a two-person or three-person tent comes down to preferences, budget, and the purpose of your trip. Are you on a multi-week thru-hike or a weekend camping trip?
You will find many comments on the internet stating that the occupancy ratings for tents are grossly misleading and that you should deduct 1 or 2 from the rating to know the real number of people able to fit in a tent.
I don’t think that is accurate. You should be able to fit two people in a two-person tent. You will not have much extra space but it is a tent, not a hotel room.
The average two-person tent will have more than enough space to accomodate two average adults. Shoulder to shoulder two adult males will be about 43 inches wide, while the average two-person backpacking tent is 50.87 inches wide. This leaves seven extra inches of space.
For two hikers, a three-person tent is a good option. The increase in weight from a two-person to a three-person tent is less than one pound, and yet the floor space increases by 25%, and the width increase by 36%! The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint increases in price by only $50 going from the two-person to the three-person variants.
Can a Queen Air Mattress Fit in a Two-Person Tent?
According to www.bestairmattressguide.com, a Queen Air Mattress is 80 inches long and 60 inches wide. Take a second to scroll back up to the section on how big a two-person tent is.
An average two-person backpacking tent is only about 88 inches long and about 51 inches wide. A Queen air mattress is 80 inches long and 60 inches wide. A Queen air mattress will not fit in a two-person tent without severely deforming the tent.
The widest two-person tent in the list above is the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint, which, as I stated before, is cheating with that 2+ rating. It is much wider than the other two-person tents on the list, and yet it is still only 56 inches wide and would not accommodate a queen air mattress.
Can a Queen Air Mattress Fit in a Three-Person Tent?
The average three-person backpacking tent has a floor space that is 88.3 inches long and 68.4 inches wide. Since a queen air mattress is 80 inches long and 60 inches wide, it will fit in an average three-person tent. Some three-person tents have a tapered floor space being wider on one end and may not fit a Queen air mattress.
Some queen air mattresses can be very tall thereby eliminating a significant portion of your living area inside of a three-person tent. The REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed Queen is undersized at 79 inches long, 56 inches wide, and 6 inches tall. This means that this mattress would fit inside of the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint without deforming the tent.
Tent size is an important consideration before you purchase. Be sure to check all of the dimensions of any tent you are considering for your trip. It would help if you always did a dry run at home with all of your gear and the individuals you expect to fit inside the tent. If the tent is too small, you will hopefully have enough time to return it for a larger model.