This installment of the 2023 Appalachian Path survey covers shelters of all types. We’ll talk about the forms of shelters used, the sort and dimension chosen based mostly on climbing companions, and total satisfaction. As all the time, we’ll go excessive manufacturers and fashions of shelters that had been on the path this yr.

We had a complete of 409 responses this yr. Thanks to everybody who stuffed out the survey! The information was collected from October by November of 2023 by our survey, which was marketed utilizing our social media platforms, Backpacker Radio, and Some responses from earlier years had been eliminated, and apparent errors in begin and finish dates had been adjusted. No apparent duplicates had been discovered.

Shelter Sort

Freestanding tents have all the time been the preferred selection of shelter and that is still true this yr. The recognition of trekking pole tents continues to develop every year, with 27 % of hikers choosing a trekking pole tent this yr over final yr’s 20 %.

Hammock and tarp use have each decreased barely this yr, from 9 and a pair of % to six and 1 % respectively. Just one respondent used a bivy sack, and some hikers used no shelter. They both relied on AT shelters or lodging in cities alongside the way in which.

READ NEXT – The 2022 Appalachian Path Via-Hiker Survey: High Tents and Shelters on the AT (prior yr survey)

We appeared on the shelter sorts hikers selected based mostly on their climbing companions. Hikers with canine nearly solely selected freestanding tents, with one canine proprietor selecting a trekking pole tent. {Couples} additionally leaned extra in the direction of freestanding tents.

Needless to say the ends in these classes are skewed by a lot decrease numbers than solo hikers and even these climbing with associates and relations.


We requested hikers concerning the dimension of tent they used and in addition in contrast that to who they had been climbing with. Over half of all hikers used a two-person shelter. Solo hikers had been almost definitely to dimension as much as a two-person shelter, with over half utilizing a two-person tent. The vast majority of {couples} used a two-person tent, though it was not unusual for {couples} to dimension as much as a three-person shelter.

Whereas selecting a bigger capability shelter stays a well-liked selection, fewer hikers are doing so in comparison with final yr’s survey. {Couples}, particularly, had been much less prone to dimension up this yr, with solely 35 % of {couples} selecting a three-person tent in comparison with final yr’s 54 %.


General, hikers had been happy with the shelters they used. Solely 5 % of all respondents mentioned they had been dissatisfied with their shelter selection.

Hammock userss confirmed probably the most dissatisfaction proportion smart, however that also solely counts for 2 hikers as so few hammockeres participated within the survey. It’s noteworthy that those that selected probably the most unusual shelter sorts (bivies, tarps, and no shelter) had been happy throughout the board.

The overwhelming majority (80 %) of hikers used the identical shelter all through their hike. 18 % of hikers swapped their tent out for a special mannequin, whereas 2 % changed their shelter with the identical mannequin.

As is typical, the most typical complaints we noticed this yr had been that shelters didn’t maintain up effectively within the rain and trapped condensation. A number of respondents mentioned they wished they selected a double-wall tent over a single-wall. These feedback had been instantly associated to the rain and condensation points.

There have been additionally many feedback concerning the Durston tents that talked about the footprint took up plenty of house and made it tough to discover a spot to pitch at occasions.

Listed here are some feedback from people who had been dissatisfied with their shelters (flippantly edited for grammar and readability):

  • “The Nemo Hornet 2P is nice when it doesn’t rain.”
  • “You’ll remorse having a silnylon tent if rains for days on finish with no likelihood for a city cease (occurred to me within the Whites!)”
  • “In hindsight, I might have extra strongly thought of a double wall tent for the very moist yr we had.”
  • “I began with a Gossamer Gear ‘The One’ however it was too leaky and flimsy. “
  • “Single wall tents have horrible splash from condensation, would advocate a excessive sleeping mat or a water-proof/artificial sleeping setup because it WILL get moist on the AT.”

Tarp Measurement

The most well-liked dimension tarp was 10 ft x 12 ft, which is identical as final yr. It gained by a a lot bigger margin this yr, with 46 % of all tarp customers selecting that dimension vs 28 % final yr. 8 ft x 10 ft is the following hottest dimension, adopted by 6ft x 8ft. As we’ve got present in years previous, hammockers are inclined to go for a bigger tarp dimension in comparison with hikers who sleep on the bottom.

Fashionable Manufacturers and Fashions

Final however actually not least, we requested hikers about their favourite manufacturers and fashions of shelters used. We separated the classes by tents and hammocks. As soon as once more, Huge Agnes and the Zpacks Duplex held the highest spot for hottest model and mannequin respectively. A lot of the prime manufacturers stayed the identical, with Durston Gear leaping in recognition from seventh place to third.

High Tent Manufacturers

High Tent Fashions

1st Place – Zpacks Duplex (47)

2nd Place – Huge Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 (32)

third Place – Durston Gear X-Mid 2 (31)

High Hammock Manufacturers and Fashions

There have been many fewer hammock customers in comparison with tent customers in our survey, and many various choices for hammocks. Only a few manufacturers and fashions had been repeated. The highest two manufacturers had been Eno, with 8 responses, and Warbonnet, with 6. The one notable mannequin talked about was the Warbonnet Blackbird, additionally with 6 responses.


  1. The vast majority of hikers use tents as their shelter; trekking pole tents have grown in recognition through the years.
  2. These climbing with a canine or important different are much more possible to make use of a tent.
  3.  Many hikers select to dimension up their tent capability. This contains solo hikers in two-person tents and {couples} in tents sized for 3 or extra individuals.
  4. 95 % of hikers had been happy with their shelters, and solely 20 % changed their shelters throughout their hikes. Nearly all shelters ought to final a complete thru-hike.
  5. Points with waterproofing and heavy rain had been the most-cited causes for tent dissatisfaction.
  6. Hammockers have a tendency to make use of bigger tarps than floor sleepers utilizing tarps, with 10 ft x 12 ft being the preferred dimension.
  7. Huge Agnes, Zpacks and Durston Gear had been the highest tent manufacturers this yr, with the recognition of Durston Gear rising loads from final yr. The one notable hammock mannequin was the Warbonnet Blackbird.

Thank You!

Congratulations to all of the Appalachian Path hikers this yr — and an enormous thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey! Upcoming posts will element AT hikers’ favourite backpacks, sleeping luggage, and stoves/filters. To remain updated on the newest survey posts, ensure to subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Extra From the Appalachian Path Via-Hiker Survey

Featured picture: Graphic design by Chris Helm.

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