The MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent being tested out camping in a forest

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Best stargazing tent

Best Stargazing Tent for Families and Groups
Best Overall Stargazing Tent
Best Budget Stargazing Tent
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent Kelty Dirt Motel 2/3 Person Backpacking Tent Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Backpacking Tent
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Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent Kelty Dirt Motel 2/3 Person Backpacking Tent Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Backpacking Tent
An excellent, roomy tent which is perfect for casual campers. Just don't use it for backpacking! Excellent build quality at a low cost for a backpacking tent. The rainfly is literally build for stargazing! Slightly underperforms the Dirt Motel tent in most areas but can also be picked up marginally cheaper.

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Last Updated: September 24, 2021

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently. Or so says Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes – and I think he’s onto something.

There’s nothing quite like lying comfortably in your tent and staring up at the wonderful expanse of the universe.

But often, our equipment can ruin this experience. And suspect #1? Your tent.

What if your tent was literally designed to make stargazing easy? What if your tent didn’t obscure your view of the big dipper?

We’ve searched through hundreds of tents to find the best stargazing tent, and we’ve found some top performers.

So read on to find out which tents top the list!

If you’re in a rush, the best stargazing tents are:

  1. Kelty Dirt Motel 2/3 Person Backpacking TentBest Overall Stargazing Tent
  2. Core 9 Person Instant Cabin TentBest Stargazing Tent for Families and Groups
  3. Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Backpacking TentBest Budget Stargazing Tent
  4. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person TentBest Luxury Backpacking Tent

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Best Stargazing Tent for Families and Groups

Best Budget Stargazing Tent

Best Luxury Backpacking Tent

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent

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Rating /5

4.5

4.2

3.9

Review

An excellent, roomy tent which is perfect for casual campers. Just don't use it for backpacking!

Slightly underperforms the Dirt Motel tent in most areas but can also be picked up marginally cheaper.

Definitely the best backpacking tent but the Kelty Dirt Motel is much cheaper.

Quick recommendation – the best stargazing tent is …

The Kelty Dirt Motel tent is the best tent for stargazing and comes in 2 person and 3 person sizes. We loved this tent for the clips on its rainfly which are purpose built for stargazing, as well as the high quality materials and the balance of value for money.

If you’re taking your family or a bigger group and want something more suitable for car camping than backpacking, we would instead recommend the CORE 9 person instant cabin tent. It’s wonderfully roomy and comes with a mesh ceiling for stargazing, a room divider to give you some privacy at night and plenty of handy storage pockets.

Best stargazing tents compared

Best Overall Tent

Kelty Dirt Motel 2/3 Person Backpacking Tent

Excellent build quality at a low cost for a backpacking tent. The rainfly is literally build for stargazing!
Overall:

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Easy to roll up the rainfly and secure for stargazing
  • Inner tent walls and ceiling are fully mesh
  • 2 doors for easy access out of either side
  • Small vestibules beside each door
  • Storage pockets to keep your gear
  • Strong and lightweight aluminium poles

Cons

  • Too small for those that like to spread out
  • Conventional setup will take you 5-15 minutes

The Kelty Dirt Motel tent tops our list as it’s literally MADE for stargazing. It comes with what Kelty calls the Stargazing Fly, which is a rainfly that you can peel back from the tent and easily clip together. 

This helps you to easily stargaze out of the mesh walls and ceiling without having the rainfly flapping about. And if you do start to feel the first drops of rain coming down? Simply unclip the rainfly and bring it all the way down the tent. We love how easy this feature makes it to conveniently look at the stars.

The Kelty Dirt Motel tent comes in 2 person or 3 person models. These are updated versions of what was previously known as the Kelty TN2 and Kelty TN3 respectively. 

For an ultralight tent weighing just over 4 lbs and packs down super small in your backpack, this tent is surprisingly roomy. The tent isn’t a classic dome shape which can leave you with little headroom, instead the tent extends at the ends so you don’t headbutt the walls as you wake up. 

However, if you’re a fan of spreading out then super lightweight tents like these might not be for you. And for casual campers, this is not an instant setup tent so expect to spend a handful of minutes getting the tent poles through the fabric loops.

The tent comes with two large doors on each side which is a must have feature in our opinion. Single door backpacking tents can be irritating if someone needs a bathroom break at night. Beside each of these doors is also a vestibule to help store your backpack, and there are small gear pockets inside the tent for flashlights, sunglasses and so on.

In general, it’s hard to find many faults with this tent as it’s a fantastic backpacking tent. 

Sure, the Kelty Night Owl tent is slightly cheaper, but it also is heavier, takes up more room in your backpack and doesn’t come with the top tier materials of the Dirt Motel tent which will help it last for years to come. And the MSR Hubba Hubba tent is even slightly lighter than the Dirt Motel, but this comes at a large increase in price that will only suit the most avid backpackers.

If this tent is too small or you’re wanting something a little more family friendly however, the CORE 9 person instant cabin tent may be more up your street. Comparing these two tents is like comparing apples and oranges though, so this will be down to personal preference.

For everyone else, the Kelty Dirt Motel tent is the best tent for stargazing and will provide a jaw dropping night under the stars.


Best for Families

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

An excellent, roomy tent which is perfect for casual campers. Just don use it for backpacking!
Overall:

Pros

  • Mesh ceiling for stargazing
  • Super easy instant setup in under a minute
  • Great value for money
  • Loads of room to spread out
  • Includes a room divider for privacy at night
  • Storage pockets on the walls to keep your gear
  • Great for summer with loads of ventilation
  • Electrical port included to bring power into the tent

Cons

  • Heavy – made for car camping
  • 2 season tent only so waterproofing doesn’t excel
  • No rainfly clip to keep it half open like Kelty
  • Material quality isn’t up to the standards of the other tents

Looking for something a bit bigger that can fit the whole family?

The CORE 9 person instant cabin tent is a great family tent for stargazing. Leaving the rainfly off gives you a fully mesh roof so that you can see the stars from the comfort of your sleeping bag.

In many ways the CORE doesn’t match up the other tents. It’s a 2 season, polyester tent and it’s heavy enough that you shouldn’t even consider it for backpacking. But not everyone is a backpacker. 

If you are going car camping and care more about price and comfort features than top tier materials and the lightness of the tent, then the CORE may be for you.

The CORE is an instant cabin tent which can be setup in under a minute, or a little longer on your first attempts. Set up is as simple as taking the tent out of the bag, extending the tent poles which come pre-attached to the tent (these are telescopic tent poles so you simply have to extend them) and then staking the tent down.

The cabin feature of the tent means vertical walls and plenty of space inside the tent. This is obviously not great if you’re facing extreme winds but it does mean that most (not too tall) people can stand up in the tent and your stargazing isn’t ruined by tent walls sloping in.

When you’re finished stargazing you can attach the room divider to split the tent into two rooms – a great feature for giving you a bit of privacy. And you can keep your flashlight in one of the many storage pockets on the walls in case of any night time bathroom breaks.

There’s also further convenient features like an e-port. This is great for bringing power cables into the tent so that you can hook up any gadgets or portable air conditioning inside the tent.

So do we recommend the CORE instant cabin tent? If you’re an avid backpacker, give this one a skip and look towards one of the Kelty or MSR tents. But if you’re just wanting to take your family or a group of friends out to see the stars then this stargazing tent is an excellent choice.


Best Budget Tent

Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Backpacking Tent

Slightly underperforms the Dirt Motel tent in most areas but can also be picked up marginally cheaper.
Overall:

Pros

  • Fairly lightweight
  • Easy to roll up the rainfly and secure for stargazing
  • Inner tent walls and ceiling are fully mesh
  • 2 doors for easy access out of either side
  • Small vestibules beside each door
  • Slightly cheaper than the Dirt Motel

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as the Kelty Dirt Motel
  • Lower quality materials than the Dirt Motel
  • Not quite as portable as the Dirt Motel
  • Too small for those that like to spread out
  • Conventional setup will take you 5-15 minutes

The Kelty Night Owl tent is a 2 person tent with many of the same features as the Kelty Dirt Motel tent. It’s an update of the popular Kelty Trail Ride tent.

So how does the tent compare to the Dirt Motel tent?

Well it’s slightly larger – although we’re talking about a matter of six inches here. Still, if you’re a tall camper and like to keep some gear by your feet then this may be useful.

The Night Owl tent is also fractionally cheaper, although there’s also not much in this. 

Unfortunately this lower price comes at the expense of the quality of the materials. The lightweight, well-respected DAC aluminum tent poles of the Dirt Motel tent have been swapped for regular aluminum tent poles. The nylon ripstop rainfly – which is lightweight and strong – has been swapped for a polyester rainfly. And the floor material has been swapped for a thinner, slightly less waterproof material in the Night Owl tent.

This thinner floor also means you should definitely pick up a footprint for the tent to avoid any tears from stray roots or stones. Although we’d always recommend a footprint for any backpacking tent anyways.

These cheaper materials and slightly large length leave the Kelty Night Owl tent around 24% heavier than the Dirt Motel tent – although it’s definitely still light enough for casual backpacking use and a complete non-issue for anyone who is car camping.

But despite the Dirt Motel tent edging out the Night Owl in these areas, the Night Owl tent is still an excellent stargazing tent for backpackers on a budget.


Best Luxury Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent

Definitely the best backpacking tent but the Kelty Dirt Motel is much cheaper.
Overall:

Pros

  • Ultralight – lightest tent in this review
  • Easy to roll up the rainfly and secure for star gazing
  • Interior tent walls and ceiling are mesh
  • Excellent build quality
  • Top notch weather protection
  • 2 doors for access out of both sides
  • Vestibules beside each door
  • Strong and ultralight aluminium poles

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slightly less tall than the Kelty offerings

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a top tier 2 person backpacking tent and has an excellent reputation. Like the Kelty backpacking tents, the entire interior of the tent is made of mesh which helps transform it into a stargazing tent at night.

It’s the lightest tent in this review, coming in at 3 lbs and 13 oz although this can be dropped even further if you’re willing to skimp on some of the accessories. This easily places it in the ultralight backpacking tent category.

On top of this, it is well made with some of the best tent materials available. The mesh and rainfly are the lightweight and strong ripstop nylon while the tent poles are DAC Featherlite NFL tent poles, an aluminum alloy that is even lighter than the aluminum poles of the Kelty Dirt Motel tent.

Ironically, this tent will even outperform the Kelty “Dirt Motel” tent in dusty and dirty conditions. The mesh starts a little higher up on the Hubba Hubba tent which can help reduce the amount of dust blowing into the tent when it gets windy and keep you warmer on a chilly night.

It even comes with two doors and a vestibule beside each door, just like the Kelty tents.

So why do we recommend the Kelty tents over the MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent? It comes down to one major factor – price.

If you’re a serious backpacker who spends a lot of time in their tent then maybe the MSR tent is worth it. It is ultralight and it is great in bad weather. But would you be willing to pay almost double for this?

If you’re like most backpackers or campers and just want something fairly light that lets you stargaze and will do a grand job, then we recommend saving some cash and getting the Kelty Dirt Motel tent instead. But if you’re a serious backpacker, then do consider the MSR Hubba Hubba tent as a long term investment.


Which stargazing tent gets a gold star?

Overall, we love the Kelty Dirt Motel 2/3 person tent for it’s balance of price and excellent quality and we’re happy to call it the best tent for stargazing.

If you’re in a bigger group however, check out the CORE 9 person instant cabin tent for a budget friendly tent which comes bundled with loads of useful benefits for car campers.

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.