Best Cheap Tents
$35 - $150Cheapism
$150 - $200Mid-Range
$200 and upHigh End
Published on By Maralyn Edid
Planning a camping trip or a backyard adventure shouldn't make you want to hide under a tent. Thrifty consumers will find plenty of cheap tents that provide a comfortable refuge for many camping excursions. The first step is to figure out your shelter needs and then decide which basic tent features you must have and which pricier features you can sacrifice. For starters, the type of tent you buy depends on where you'll be camping (the climate, the terrain), how you'll use the tent (sleeping, cooking, family activities), and personal preference. Dollar-wise shoppers take note: The most expensive tents may not be the best buy, so use this guide to help find a quality tent that fits within your budget.
Wenzel South Bend Sport Dome Tent Yellow Black White Review
(1-4 persons) A dome tent with a Dutch-style, or D-shaped, door and window for easy accessibility, and mesh roof vents and windows, this cheap tent also features a fiberglass frame with pin and ring system that allows for no-fuss set up and a patented hooped fly frame that ensures the tent stays up. Campers say it holds its own against the elements.
Coleman Hooligan 2 Backpacking Tent Review
(1-2 persons) This backpacking tent is lightweight and easy to carry, and, with its one pole design, even simpler to set up; it also features a waterproof floor and protected seams, plus a full-length rain fly. Users appreciate the rain protection and good ventilation.
Wenzel Klondike 16' x 11' Tent Taupe and Light Grey Review
(6+ persons) With a screened-in porch that doubles as an extra room when zipped and its patented "power corner" design, the Wenzel Klondike stays put even in gusty winds. Users like its easy setup and roominess for as many as eight people.
Eureka Apex (1-2 person tent) Review
Budget consumers are satisfied with this two-pole rectangular dome tent with 5.4 square feet of vestibule storage and like its spacious design, poke-out vent, and interior storage pockets.
Coleman Squaw Creek (6+ person tent) Review
Users praise this spacious budget choice for ease of set up and the additional outdoor living space created by attached awnings and wings.
Wind Ridge Instant Tent (3-5 person tent) Review
Eldorado Outdoor Products Inc. claims anybody can set up this tent in less than one minute, and campers overwhelmingly agree; made of recycled durable flame-treated nylon, the bathtub tarp bottom prevents flooding and splashing and the attachable waterproof rainfly helps keep things dry.
Rothco Camouflage GI Type Bivouac Shelter Tent (1-2 person tent) Review
Made of lightweight nylon with a double-layer nylon floor, users report the thin nylon fabric tears easily, poles are not strong enough to adequately support the framework, and the shape minimizes the interior space.
Ozark Trail Dome Tent (6+ person tent) Review
Two separate rooms and a center height of 6ï¿½ in this large dome-shaped tent don't compensate for the lack of airflow and shoddy construction; a common user complaint focuses on the zipper in the door, which has a tendency to get stuck; expert reviews say this tent is best suited to occasional or beginning campers.
Eddie Bauer Alpental Sport Dome (3-5 person tent) Review
Polyester walls with nylon taffeta floor and shock-corded fiberglass poles for easy set up donï¿½t provide the necessary support, according to user reviews, which also criticize the lack of ventilation, cheap construction, and poor water repelling performance.
Cheap Tents Buying Guide
Budget tents come in an assortment of styles that are made for various activities. Tents that will be used in milder and drier climates and/or close to home are usually the cheapest; these inexpensive tents will probably not endure the climatic and geographic conditions that warrant heavy-duty tents, which generally cost more. Experts universally advise that you choose at minimum a three-season tent in order to be prepared for most weather. The best low-cost three-season tents are versatile enough to withstand cold or heat, light snow or driving rain, and most conditions in between. These less expensive tents typically weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, which makes them a good choice for easy packing and carrying. Bear in mind that the number of people the tent is supposed to hold is almost always greater than the number that it will comfortably hold; figure at least one fewer person per tent than is advertised.
Cheap Tent Features.The standard components of an economical tent include lightweight aluminum poles, a reinforced floor, durable stitching, and a quality rainfly. Some cheaper three-season tents are designed with open-air netting and are best suited for summer backpacking. Many of the better bargain tents also feature pre-sealed and taped seams as well as a silicone-treated rainfly for even better protection against unpleasant weather.
Tent Components.There are three basic components that a tent should always include: poles, body, and rainfly. The poles provide the tent's support structure. Poles are usually made of aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber and should be sturdy and well-constructed.
The body refers to the tent itself and is usually made of nylon (light weight) or polyester (heavier). Expert advice from Familycampinggear.com stresses the importance of a floor that continues up the sides for about six inches, creating a bowl effect that helps to keep the interior dry.
The rainfly serves as an umbrella for the tent, protecting it from ultraviolet rays, wind, rain, and snow. (Waterproof fabric tents without a rainfly are generally very light and recommended only if you plan to go backpacking and weight is a critical consideration.) A full rainfly, made of coated nylon, gives the best protection against weather that is too cold or hot, wet or windy by fully wrapping around the tent. The rainfly should also be quick and easy to put on and take off.