A simple tent that gives you a view of the stars?
Here are the best tents we’ve found for visibility – quick and easy to put up when the mood takes you, light to pack and comfy to sleep in.
Also have a look at the astronomical calendar at the end of the article for meteor showers and more.
Latest update: March 2021
All set up for a night wih the Aqua Quest West Coast and a starspotting tiger.
In a hurry? If you don’t have much time using the links below to quickly find our favourites for you. You can be assured we only choose the best products…
The best tents for watching the night sky
We haven’t chosen anything too expensive or technical. You just want to be able to grab your tent on a clear night and have it ready for stargazing in minutes.
Although there are family-sized tents available, we prefer a couple of smaller tents. Throw a couple in the car or campervan for off-site spontaneous nights or to make the most of beautiful places that don’t allow vehicles.
Simple, cheap and comfy
This AquaQuest beauty is the best pick for good weather wild camping and bivvying.
It’s basically a mini mesh tent you can set up in a minute, and you can then string up a tarp to keep off the rain. It’s affordable too.
Its big advantage is very little condensation (there was some on the green roof section, but it doesn’t touch your sleeping bag except right at the foot).
The West Coast is also roomy and a pleasure to sleep in, looking at the stars. For us, it’s the idea small, light and fast ‘thing’ to sleep in when fair-weather wild camping.
A roomy option
The Cobra 2 is just about a two-person tent, but we prefer it as a roomy one-person bivvy tent.
Aluminium poles, a ventilated inner tent and storage room. Best of all is the 93cm headroom. It’s heavier than our other picks, but still packable.
- Weight: 2.2kg
- Pack size: 48cm x 18cm x 15cm
Value and space
Choose either the one-person tent at 1.27kg or the two-person at 1.77kg. They both pack to just 50 x 10cm. Pegs and a generous stuffsack are included.
Up in seconds thanks to the simple prebent poles and you can use it without the rainfly for clear nights.
For hardier stargazers – a simple bivvy or bivi bag
Bivvying, bivvi-ing or bivouacing is simply sleeping outside without a tent. A sleeping bag and a mat is the most basic kit you’ll need.
Rainy weather (and even dew) will persuade you to invest in at least a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag like the MilTec one shown here.
You can throw a bivvy cover like this Snugpak Special Forces one into a rucksack or pannier for hiking and cycling trips. Or just keep it handy for nights when you want to see the stars rather than the inside of a tent or van.
It’s completely waterproof and lightweight, plus it’s designed to trap warm air inside to keep you warm
The Highlander Hawk bivvy bag is lightweight, breathable and waterproof.
You probably won’t want to use this on a serious expedition but at a great price, it’s surprisingly good. Waterproof with taped seams.
Ideally, you won’t need a tarp because the sky will be clear. It’s not a bad idea to have one handy and half set-up so that you can quickly roll it over the top of your tent if needs be.
See our tarp article here.
Choose a good sleeping bag
If you’re not backpacking, our choice would be something like the Andes Grand (1.8kg and around £45), which can be a duvet or rectangular sleeping bag. It’s rated for four seasons, but you might want the extra warmth of a liner or a Jungle Blanket over the top.
Or just use your duvet with a blanket under you for insulation.
For more options, have a look at our review of three-season sleeping bags.
A comfy mat
Cheap foam ones are good, but – if you have the space – more expensive self-inflating mats are better. You can, if you must, use bubblewrap.
We rate the Klymit range mats for their comfortable V-shaped baffles, but you don’t necessarily need a lightweight pad like this if you’re camping at home or have the car handy.
Have a look at our guide and recommendations for thick and comfy camping mattresses.
This is the Celestron travel scope and very good it is too. 70mm refractor telescope with fully coated glass optics and an adjustable height tripod. It comes with two eyepieces, 45° erect image diagonal, and 5×24 finderscope. Backpack included too.
70mm aperture, 400mm focal length and focal ratio f/5.7. Resolution (Rayleigh) is 1.98 arc seconds and Resolution (Dawes) is 1.66 arc seconds.
Apps for your phone
Have a look on your app store for starfinder apps. There are some great ones that show you constellations, meteor showers and more.
Choose one that autolocates by your position so that it gives you a real-time representation of the sky.
Some of them are so pretty (and addictive), there’s a danger you’ll spend all your time looking at the screen rather than the sky!
As you will be laying still for a while and it will get pretty cold out there it will be well worth having an extra blanket with you, our favourite camping blanket. Packs into a pillow, good insulation, withstands damp and drizzle and made with the environment as a priority. Use them as a blanket, a wraparound, a sleeping bag and a pillow. Lots of gorgeous designs and colours (I have the Bahia), as well as models with a fleecy lining.
I know your thinking what do I need a lamp for when star gazing doesn't it need to be dark? Well yes, but it will be REALLY dark when you get the best stargazing done and we don't want your tripping up when you need to pay mother nature a call or if you pack up and leave without staying over.
Calendar of the year’s astronomical events
Also check out our best tents overall here