10 Best Budget Backpacking Tents Under $100 [Buyers Guide]

Have you been itching to load up your pack and hit the trail for a weekend backpacking trip? Or maybe you're planning a nice thru-hike over the summer? Then you're in luck, because we’re here to help.

If you're eyeing some new backpacking gear, that means you're probably in the market for a good tent. In this article, we've laid out our reviews for the ten best budget backpacking tents under $100.

We’ve taken the hassle out of sifting through hundreds of tent reviews to provide you our own reviews on the best of the best.

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Best Budget Packing Tents Under $100

We know just how vital backpack space is, so we took the time to review these tents with size, weight, and capacity in mind. You'll find simple, no-frills tents for single campers, along with all-season tents that sleep multiple campers. 

No matter what you're looking for, you're guaranteed to find the budget tent you need on this list. Keep reading to find out which tent will suit all your backpacking needs.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for budget backpacking tents under $100 is the Coleman Sundome Tent. You can read more about it and the other nine tents I have reviewed in this article.

Model & Make
Coleman Sundome Tent
BISINNA 2 Person Camping Tent
Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person Backpacking Tent
Image
Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent, Green
BISINNA 2 Person Camping Tent Lightweight Backpacking Tent Waterproof Windproof Two Doors Easy Setup Double Layer Outdoor Tents for Family Camping Hunting Hiking Mountaineering Travel
Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person Backpacking Tent - 4 Season Ultralight Waterproof Camping Tent, Large Size Easy Setup Tent for Winter, Cold Weather, Family, Outdoor, Hiking and Mountaineering
Weight
6.4 lbs
4.72 lbs
5 lbs
Capacity
2 people
2 people
2 people
Delivery
Model & Make
Coleman Sundome Tent
Image
Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent, Green
Weight
6.4 lbs
Capacity
2 people
Delivery
Where to buy
Model & Make
BISINNA 2 Person Camping Tent
Image
BISINNA 2 Person Camping Tent Lightweight Backpacking Tent Waterproof Windproof Two Doors Easy Setup Double Layer Outdoor Tents for Family Camping Hunting Hiking Mountaineering Travel
Weight
4.72 lbs
Capacity
2 people
Delivery
Where to buy
Model & Make
Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person Backpacking Tent
Image
Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person Backpacking Tent - 4 Season Ultralight Waterproof Camping Tent, Large Size Easy Setup Tent for Winter, Cold Weather, Family, Outdoor, Hiking and Mountaineering
Weight
5 lbs
Capacity
2 people
Delivery
Where to buy

1. Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person 4-Season Backpacking Tent

Clostnature Lightweight 2-Person Backpacking Tent - 4 Season Ultralight Waterproof Camping Tent, Large Size Easy Setup Tent for Winter, Cold Weather, Family, Outdoor, Hiking and Mountaineering
  • 4 SEASON TENT: We offer limited LIFETIME WARRANTY. 210T Polyester rain fly, groundsheet, and bathtub with PU 5000 coating are firmer than you expected. Weatherproof material with factory-sealed seams...
  • LARGE SIZE&LIGHTWEIGHT: Super lightweight winter tent! Interior Size 7'3" x 4'11" x 3'10". Weight: 6.4lbs. Packed Size: 16.5''x5.9''x5.9'', easy to put in one's backpack. Larger than most 2 person...
  • QUICK SETUP&COMPACT: Free-standing and two Aluminum poles design for lightweight hiking tent's fast pitching. Easily setup by one person with no experience. This ultralight backpacking tent is compact...

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 87” x 59” x 46” 

Weight: 5 lbs

Packed Size: 16.5” x 5.9”

Fabric: 210T polyester

The Clostnature 4 Season backpacking tent is an excellent option if you're a year-round camper. Made of 210T PU5000 polyester, this tent tops the charts for waterproofing, which means it's ideal for heavy rainstorms. In addition, with built-in snow flaps and multiple ventilation areas, this tent is perfect for all weather conditions.

The main problem with a 4-season tent is that it requires more material, so the Clostnature is a bit bulkier than our other choices. However, the added weight will be worth it when you can finally curl up to relax at the end of the day. It also packs down to a pretty compact size, so it won't be cumbersome to carry.

We chose the Clostnature Lightweight 4-Season tent because it offers everything you could need for year-round camping. This tent will keep you warm and dry no matter what weather conditions you might encounter. If you plan to camp in a wide variety of temperatures, the Clostnature will be a great choice.

Pros

  • 4-season construction
  • High waterproofing
  • Snow flap
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Heavy


2. GEERTOP Ultralight Bivy Tent

GEERTOP 1 Person Bivy Tent Ultralight Backpacking Tent for 1 Man Double Layer Waterproof Camouflage Camp Tent for Outdoor Camping Hiking Travel - Easy to Set Up
  • 【Ultralight Single Person Tent】Geertop 1 person tent only weigh no more than 4 lb, tent dimension - 84(L) x 39(W) x 36(H) inch ; it is a roomy travel camping tent for single person, small & light,...
  • 【Professional Bivy Tent】Double layer, inner tent + tent fly, flysheet covers the entire tent ensuring no water gets in during a rainstorm, outer tent fly up to PU 5000mm waterproof; Tape sealed,...
  • 【Portable & Breathable】2 Ventilation Windows & Doors - allowing for greater airflow throughout the tent; Say goodbye to sultry , ensure a wonder sleep ; With 2 extral vestibule, where can hold the...

Capacity: 1 person 

Size: 84” x 39” x 27.5” 

Weight: 3.8 lbs

Packed Size: 17” x 5” 

Fabric: 210T waterproof polyester

Sometimes, a simple bivy tent is all you need when you're heading out on a backpacking or hunting trip. If you think a bivy tent might be right for you, you should check out the GEERTOP Ultralight. Made of 210T polyester and offering multiple ventilation options, this tent is perfect for use on a trail or at the campground.

The GEERTOP Ultralight is designed with efficiency in mind. It's quick to set up, offers the best protection possible, and has lightweight aluminum poles. At just under four pounds, this option hits all the right marks.

Pros

  • Exceptional waterproofing  
  • Very lightweight
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Not much headroom


3. Night Cat Backpacking Tent

Night Cat Backpacking Tent for One 1 to 2 Persons Lightweight Waterproof Camping Hiking Tent for Adults Kids Scouts Easy Setup Single Layer 2.2x1.2m
  • 【Lightweight & Compact】 The backpacking tent only weighs 2KG(4.4lb) and the package size is quite compact, only 42 x12 x 12cm(16.5 x 4.7 x 4.7inches) thanks to the foldable fiberglass poles. Ideal...
  • 【Easy Setup & Fast Take Down】 Manually setting up this camping tent is easy and fun, and it only takes about 1 minute to assemble. Taking down is also simple and quickly
  • 【Waterproof & Windproof】 210D waterproof PED fabric PU 3000, oxford bottom fabric PU 3000, waterproof tape on every seam, to ensure the inside dome tent is completely dry under any rain situation...

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 7.2’ x 4’ x 4’ 

Weight: 4.4 lbs

Packed Size: 16.5” x 4.7” x 4.7” 

Fabric: 210D Oxford fabric

The Night Cat Backpacking Tent is a solid choice for a single camper who wants room to move. It could also be a good option for partners who don’t mind sharing tent space. The best part about this option is that it sets up in a flash, taking only a minute or two to have it up and ready to go.

This lightweight tent is made of durable, rainproof fabric that does a great job of keeping the rain out. The seams are reinforced with waterproof tape, and the fiberglass poles will keep the tent standing strong even in windy conditions.

If you want the luxury of just shutting down at the end of the day and not needing to fuss with a complex sleep setup, the Night Cat will be your best choice.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Highly waterproof
  • Easy setup and take down

Cons

  • Fiberglass poles are heavier than aluminum


4. Clostnature Lightweight 3-Season Backpacking Tent

Sale
Clostnature 1-Person Tent for Backpacking - Ultralight One Person Backpacking Tent, Hiking Tent for One Man, Solo, Single Person (Green/Dual-Door)
  • 1 PERSON TENT: If trekking or backpacking personal in the backcountry, you’ll need a quality one person tent to keep you protected from the elements. 210T Polyester rain fly&bathtub with PU 5000...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: What factors should consider for the best 1 person tent? Weight and overall portability must be important factors to consider! This ultralight single person tent only weighs 3.7 lbs....
  • QUICK SETUP&COMPACT: A solo tent should be very easy to erect and takedown. Free-standing and two Aluminum poles design for lightweight hiking tent’s fast pitching. Easily setup by one person with...

Capacity: 1 person

Size: 7’3” x 2’8” x 3’

Weight: 4.2 lbs

Packed Size: 15” x 5.1”

Fabric: 210T polyester

The freestanding Clostnature 3-Season tent checks a lot of the budget tent boxes, including those for price, space, and size. This tent is spacious enough to give a single camper plenty of space to store their gear. In addition, it uses lightweight aluminum poles and offers two entrances to provide maximum ventilation. 

Although the Clostnature tent is on the heavier side of "lightweight," it's incredibly easy to set up and take down. It's also compact enough that you can fit it in your pack. And since it’s at a great price point, you won't have to worry about breaking the bank to purchase it.

Pros

  • Roomy vestibule
  • Great ventilation
  • Compact packed design

Cons

  • A bit heavy


5. Forceatt Camping Tent

Forceatt Camping Tent-2 Person Tent, Waterproof & Windproof. Lightweight Backpacking Tent, Easy Setup, Suitable for Outdoor and Hiking Traveling
  • 【LIGHTWEIGHT AND CONVENIENT】 The internal size of the Forceatt camping tent is 86.6x51.1x43.3in (220x130x110cm), which can accommodate two person at the same time. At the same time, it has a...
  • 【QUALITY MATERIALS】 The backpacking tent material is made of high quality 70D polyester fiber and windproof 7001 aluminum rod, Waterproof and resistant to wind. At the same time, the welded floor...
  • 【PROFESSIONAL DESIGN】 There are two D-shaped doors in the tent. The outer account has two vestibules. The upper part of the tent has a large mesh window and two ceiling vents to keep the air...

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 51” x 87” x 42”

Weight: 5.68 lbs 

Packed Size: 16.5” x 5.5”

Fabric: 70D polyester

The Forceatt Camping tent offers a lot of features at a great price. It's perfect for 1-2 people, and its length makes it ideal for campers who are on the tall side. The lightweight aluminum poles are a plus, too, since the tent has a bit of weight to it.

The Forceatt has a lot of great features, but one of the things we liked best about it is that its walls are nearly vertical. Although it doesn't have as much headroom as you might like, when combined with the tent’s vestibule, the vertical walls offer more roominess than you'd expect.

Pros

  • Vertical walls 
  • Good waterproofing
  • Aluminum poles

Cons

  • Not much headroom


6. River Country Products Trekker Tent

River Country Products Trekker Tent 2.2, Two Person Trekking Pole Backpacking Tent - Green
  • Lightweight at 3 lb 5 oz, the trekking pole design and attached rainfly make for a quick and easy setup.
  • This tent is intended for use with trekking poles, but can be used with almost any stick that is over 42 inches tall.
  • At over 7 feet long, over 5 feet wide, and 42 inches high, this tent offers more room inside than almost any other ultralight tent.

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 7’ x 5’ x 42”

Weight: 3.3 lbs 

Packed Size: 14” x 7”

Fabric: PU coated polyester

The River Country Trekker tent is ideal for experienced campers or those who might be on a tight budget. The most important thing to remember is that the Trekker doesn't come with poles. Instead, it's designed to use your trekking poles to set up.

If you don't use trekking poles, don't worry. You can purchase separate tent poles if you'd like. Or, if you want to avoid adding on extra weight, you can forage for sticks in the woods and use those to suspend your tent.

The main downside to this tent is that it isn't terribly spacious. If you're camping on your own, it'll work just fine. If you're heading out with a partner, though, we'd recommend something with a bit more space.

Pros

  • Great budget option
  • Waterproof
  • Simple design

Cons

  • Takes longer to set up
  • Requires trekking poles or the purchase of tent poles


7. Camppal Professional 1 Person 4 Season Tent

Sale
camppal Professional 1 Person Single Extreme Space Saving Single Bracket Tent, 4 Season Mountain Tent, Lightweight Backpacking Tents, Strong Durable Waterproof Outdoor Hunting Hiking Camping Tent
  • [1 PERSON TENT 4 SEASONS] - Size: Inner Backpacking tent(8.2ft * 2.95ft * 2.95ft) LxWxH, Outer Camping tent: 8.2ft x (2.95ft +1.31ft) x 3.11ft,;3500~4000mm Water Resistance. Fire Retardant...
  • ♚ [100% WATERPROOF AND WINDPROOF] - outer fly with the water proofing value of 3500mm,seam taping on the zipper, velcro wrap with PVC & seam taping, 4 bottom corner with seam taping, which are...
  • ♚ [EXTENDED LENGTH - 8.2ft] - This single tent is long enough to enable the taller person to sleep in the tent comfortably; the longer tent also provides with extra space for the personal belongings...

Capacity: 1 person

Size: 98.4” x 35.4” x 35.4”

Weight: 3.84 lbs

Packed Size: 24.4" x 4.7"

Fabric: 210T waterproof polyester

If you need a great waterproof tent that's perfectly suited for a single camper, the Camppal Professional is just what you're looking for. With 210T 3500mm water resistance and fabric treated for UV protection, this 4-season tent can stand up to some pretty harsh conditions.

The Camppal Professional has a simple setup, too. With only one ridge pole, you can have the tent set up and ready in just a few minutes. It also has a good-sized vestibule, which will be great for storing things like boots and other dirty gear outside. Best of all, it’s lightweight for a 4-season tent, which means you’ll have the added comfort without the added weight.

Pros

  • Good waterproof rating
  • Lightweight
  • Vestibule

Cons

  • No ventilation at the top


8. LYN Heavy Duty Survival Tent

LYN Emergency Shelter Survival Tube Tent with Door Dual Zippers Fireproof Material Reflective Waterproof Survival Kits
  • FIREPROOF MATERIAL:The latest product is made of a fireproof material,and it has passed CPAI-84 Certification.The survival tent is very compact but solid.
  • WITH DOOR:This tent close on both ends.The one end is closed and the other has zippers .This offers some wind protection and you'll stay warmer more easily.
  • DUAL ZIPPERS:No matter whether you enter the tent or out of the tent, it is very convenient to open and close the tent door.It¡s never been easier to protect yourself against rain,wind,cold,and sun.

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 82” x 36”  

Weight: 1.6 lbs

Packed Size: 15.28” x 11.06” x 3.31” 

Fabric: Waterproof and fireproof non-woven fabric

Since we've covered a variety of tents so far, I thought I'd review one of the most no-fuss tents available: the LYN Survival Tent. Although none of the other tents listed fall into the survival category, certain survival tents are worthy options for backpacking.

The purpose of survival tents is right there in the name. They're meant to be stowed away in your backpack, bug out bag, or trunk in case you run into trouble. The LYN has a leg up on other survival tents because it’s heavy-duty, which means it can act as a regular backpacking tent.

A heavy-duty tent like the LYN will be great if you're going on a long hike and need to keep that base weight down. At only 1.6 pounds, this tent is fireproof, windproof, and waterproof. Its mylar interior helps keep you toasty warm in cold weather, and it's got a zip-up door to help keep the elements out.

Since the LYN doesn't have stakes, you need to hang it using a paracord between trees. If you're in a pinch, though, you can roll it up and use it just as you would a bivy sack. 

Although this tent is considered a survival tent, it's a worthwhile option if you want something ultralight and aren't looking for any bells or whistles.

Pros

  • Warm
  • Backpack-friendly
  • Perfect for a single camper

Cons

  • Requires trees and rope for setup


9. Coleman Sundome Tent

LYN Emergency Shelter Survival Tube Tent with Door Dual Zippers Fireproof Material Reflective Waterproof Survival Kits
  • FIREPROOF MATERIAL:The latest product is made of a fireproof material,and it has passed CPAI-84 Certification.The survival tent is very compact but solid.
  • WITH DOOR:This tent close on both ends.The one end is closed and the other has zippers .This offers some wind protection and you'll stay warmer more easily.
  • DUAL ZIPPERS:No matter whether you enter the tent or out of the tent, it is very convenient to open and close the tent door.It¡s never been easier to protect yourself against rain,wind,cold,and sun.

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 84” x 60” x 48” 

Weight: 6.4 lbs 

Packed Size: 24.2” x 6” x 6”

Fabric: Polyester taffeta 75 denier flysheet

The Coleman Sundome tent is an excellent bargain for campers. Although it's a bit heavier than the other tents covered, its durability and roominess make up for it. If you're a beginner camper and haven't quite decided whether or not you want to invest a lot in gear just yet, the Coleman Sundome will be perfect.

If you plan to camp alone, this tent will give you plenty of space to rest your head and store your gear. However, if you plan to share your tent space with a friend or partner, make sure you have a dedicated, element-proof space for your gear outside the tent.

Due to its weight and packed size, we'd recommend using this for shorter backpacking trips to avoid taking space away from your other backpacking essentials. This one won’t be ideal for thru-hikes or other multi-day trips.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Quick setup
  • E-port to access outlets

Cons

  • Only one entrance
  • A bit on the heavy side


BISINNA 2 Person 3 Season Tent

Sale
BISINNA 2 Person Camping Tent Lightweight Backpacking Tent Waterproof Windproof Two Doors Easy Setup Double Layer Outdoor Tents for Family Camping Hunting Hiking Mountaineering Travel
  • 【Durable and High-Quality Material】: BISINNA Camping tent are made with high quality Material. The INNER TENT made with 190T Polyester Taffeta+B3 No-see-um Mesh; RAINFLY made by 190T Polyester...
  • 【Roomy 2-person Tent for 3 Seasons】: With the unfolding size of (23.6+55+23.6) x 82.7 x 47.2 (H) inches / (60+140+60) x 210 x 110 H cm.BISINNA backpacking tent is spacious enough to accommodate up...
  • 【Breathable & Stable】: Large section of mesh and 2 D-shaped doors with dual zippers provide much better ventilation. Equipped with 8 lightweight Alloy Pegs and 2 Wind ropes, the tent has a high...

Capacity: 2 people

Size: 82.6” x 55.1” x 43.3”

Weight: 4.72 lbs

Packed Size: 17” x 5.9”

Fabric: 190T polyester

The BISINNA 3 Season tent is made of 190T polyester. It has ample ventilation in the form of no-see-um mesh, which effectively keeps mosquitos and other pests out while allowing fresh air to circulate through the tent. It also has two large doors that provide added ventilation and easy access to the outdoors.

The rainfly has a PU2000mm water-resistant coating, which works well to keep the water away if a rainstorm comes through. As a 3-season tent, the BISINNA will be perfect in the spring, summer, and fall. However, if you plan to use it for a winter backpacking trip, make sure you make a plan for keeping warm in your tent. 

This tent is ideal for hikers and backpackers because it's lightweight, sets up quickly, and is just the right size for 2 people. If you plan to camp with a buddy, this will be a great choice.

Pros

  • Long and narrow
  • Lots of ventilation
  • Quick setup

Cons

  • Waterproofing is only ideal for mildly rainy conditions
  • Not much headspace

Key Features of a Good Backpacking Tent

The tents listed above offer some good insight into what you should look for in a backpacking tent. There are some other features and tips you should be aware of when shopping for a tent, though, so let's explore those a bit more.

Size

Backpacking tents are typically smaller than most camping tents. This decrease in size is because the tent needs to fit into or attach to your pack without weighing you down. However, you don't need to settle for cramped quarters simply because a tent is designed for backpacking. There are lots of roomy options available if you know where to look.

When choosing your tent size, the main thing you should focus on is how much space you need versus how much space you want. For example, a two-person tent will offer you more space as a single camper, but it will also add weight to your pack.

When deciding which tent to buy, go for one that will give you just enough space to sleep and store your gear, with enough headspace that you can at least bend at the waist. Unfortunately, you won't find many backpacking tents that offer more than 48" of headspace, but you should still be able to find something that won't require you to walk on your knees.

If you're going on a shorter hike, an extra pound may not make too much of a difference. But if you plan to do a longer thru-hike, stick with what you need. If you're going to add weight to your pack, choose a comfort item or two that will make camping more pleasurable.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a tent is that more open space inside your tent means more space to heat. So if it's going to be cold where you plan to camp, a smaller tent that's designed for cold weather will keep you warmer than a larger one.

Weight

There are three weight classes for tents:

  • Ultralight (2-3 lbs)
  • Light (3-4.5 lbs)
  • Mid/Heavyweight (4.5lbs and above)

To maximize space in your pack, you should try to find something that's compact and falls into the ultralight or light categories. Your base weight should only be about 20% of your body weight, so the lighter the tent, the better, especially if you don't weigh much. As any hiker will tell you, base weight adds up quickly, so every ounce counts.

A tent that packs flat, such as the LYN we reviewed above, is an excellent choice for something that's relatively sleek when packed. A cylindrical tent that's roughly 12-16" long can fit nicely into a pack, too. You'll start to run into a bit of trouble if your tent is too long when packed because it will be hard to fit it cleanly into your backpack.

Setup

A tent that sets up quickly will make all the difference at the end of a long and grueling day on the trail. The last thing you want is to have to fuss with poles, flies, and stakes for a long time before having a place to rest your head. 

We intentionally chose tents that had quick and easy setups. Most of the tents we reviewed can be set up in ten minutes or less. So when you make your purchase, make sure you look up how long it takes an average person to pitch their tent. 

A word of advice, though. Once you purchase your tent, practice setting it up a few times before heading out on the trail. You can set it up in your living room, backyard, or anywhere you have a bit of empty space. Not only will it allow you to get used to how to set up and take down the tent, but it will also let you find the quickest way to pack it back into its bag.

Durability

Although it may not be hard to find an excellent budget backpacking tent under $100, you have to remember that not all budget tents are created equal. There are vast differences in fabric quality, waterproofing, pole materials, and features that all factor into what a tent will cost. 

When you choose your tent, make sure you pick something made with high-quality materials that provide sturdiness and durability to your tent. A cheaply made tent can have poor seams, thin fabric, inadequate waterproofing, poor ventilation, and lower-quality parts, including poles and stakes. Those things can lead to leaks, tears, and busted seams. 

You can usually fix those malfunctions with patch kits, duct tape, or a needle and thread. For example, if your tent collapses in the middle of the night because of poorly made poles, finding duct tape to fix them or branches to replace them will be a real hassle.

That said, it's easier if you don't need to worry about tent problems at all. A high-quality, well-built tent will be worth its weight in gold. 

Cost

Although cost should be a factor in choosing a backpacking tent, it shouldn't be the only factor. Just as there are high-quality budget tents, there are plenty of low-quality top-of-the-line tents, too. Keep that in mind when you’re shopping around.

However, more often than not, you get what you pay for.

In many cases, you'll pay more for added perks. For example, a tent that blocks out sunlight may run you a bit more than one that doesn't. Likewise, a four-season tent that will keep you warm in the winter will cost more than one that's designed for fair-weather months.

If you’re shopping on a budget, make a list of the things you need in a tent. Then, focus your search on tents that offer only those features within your targeted price range. 

Stability

Some tents are more stable than others, and one of the most critical factors in a tent's stability are the parts that hold it up. For example, well-made poles and proper stakes will keep a tent from blowing away. On the other hand, poorly made stakes, such as those made of plastic, or stakes that aren't long enough for your terrain, can send a tent sailing.

Stability is an essential feature in a good tent. A strong tent will stand up to wind, heavy rain, and the occasional stumble in the middle of the night. When you’re on the trail, miles away from civilization and a warm bed, you don’t want to be stuck with a cheap tent flapping in the wind.

Poles

There are two primary materials tent manufacturers use for poles: aluminum and fiberglass. Both have their pros and cons, but one isn’t inherently better than the other. 

The main benefit to aluminum is that it's strong and won't bend easily. But unfortunately, that strength comes at a cost, as aluminum poles are generally more expensive than fiberglass. 

Fiberglass poles are cheaper to make, which means they can reduce the cost of a tent quite a bit. The downside is that fiberglass poles need to be thicker in order to compete with aluminum in terms of strength. The added thickness makes the poles heavier. Also, if you don't have poles that are the right thickness, they can snap.

Season Rating

A tent’s season rating will tell you what weather the tent is rated for. Choosing the proper season rating is essential if you plan to camp all year round. It's especially important if you live in an area that experiences the extremes of all four seasons. 

Tents built to withstand winter weather, including bitter cold temperatures and snow, are necessary for cold climates. Not only will you be more comfortable if your tent can keep the cold out, but you'll be safer, too.

Likewise, if you plan to go backpacking in the heat, you want a tent that can repel UV rays and reflect the sun so you don't end up cooking inside your tent. As anyone who's camped in the heat can attest, waking up to the sun blazing in your eyes is never fun.

Ventilation

When you shop around for a backpacking tent, make sure you find one that has good ventilation options. This is especially important if you plan to camp in humid or hot conditions. The most common form of ventilation is mesh panels in the sides and doors of your tent.

A well-ventilated tent will work wonders at keeping condensation from forming on the inside. Not only will that make you more comfortable, but it will help keep your gear dry, too. It also allows fresh air to circulate through your tent, which will prevent the air inside from getting stale.

In addition to preventing condensation, a tent with a lot of ventilation will be great in the summer. Listening to the sounds of nature as a cool breeze flows through your tent is one of the best ways to enjoy a trip in the wilderness.  

Vestibules and Openings

Vestibules and openings make your tent a more comfortable living space that you can easily air out each day. Although a vestibule may not seem like a necessity for a tent, you'd be surprised at how much this feature can improve your camping experience. 

If you've ever lived or visited a house with a mudroom, you know that it's the perfect place to drop muddy shoes, wet jackets, and other messy items that you don't want to track through the house.

A tent vestibule serves the same purpose. These overhangs offer a space to leave your boots, rest your gear, and give you a bit of cover from the rain.

If you're going to share your tent with another person, having an outdoor storage space in the form of a vestibule will free up valuable tent space inside.

Waterproofing

Most tents will claim to be waterproof, but what that really means is that they're water-resistant.

In case you were wondering, yes, there's a difference. 

A truly waterproof fabric won't allow water to seep through. For example, a rubber sheet will repel water indefinitely unless the sheet is damaged or degraded. Rubber raincoats and rain boots work in much the same way. 

On the other hand, tents are made with woven fabric rated for a certain level of water resistance. A water-resistant fabric will resist absorbing water, but only until a certain point. 

In other words, a tent that can hold up to a gentle spring rain may only last a few minutes if a heavy downpour comes through. 

To find out how waterproof your tent is, do a quick search for the HH, or Hydrostatic Head, rating. The HH rating will tell you how much water your tent can withstand before moisture seeps through. The rating will likely be lower on a budget tent than a top-of-the-line tent, although that’s not always the case. 

If you want to add a layer of waterproofing to your tent, consider bringing a plastic tarp to suspend over your tent. Just make sure it’s large enough that the water rolling off will drip away from where you’ll be sleeping.

Ground Cover

Because the manufacturers of budget tents may have cut costs in certain areas, you should always use some type of ground cover when camping. A ground covering, such as a tarp, will prevent the floor of your tent from rubbing against the ground. 

Good ground cover will also act as a barrier against water if the ground becomes damp. Ground cover is essential since floor material is one area where budget tent manufacturers will cut manufacturing costs. 

Zipper Quality

A zipper may seem like a small thing, but zippers are the only thing keeping the outside from getting into your tent. That’s why you should pay attention to zipper quality when shopping for or testing out tents.

A strong zipper will keep pests and other critters from slipping into your tent. Your tent’s zipper also acts as a reinforcement to the waterproofing system. A faulty zipper could cause water to leak into the tent, and unless you have a roll of duct tape on hand (which isn’t always a bad thing), you’ll be stuck with a leaky tent.

FAQ

Still have questions? Here are answers to some of the most common backpacking tent questions.

Do I Need to Travel With a Tent?

Put simply, no, you don’t need to travel with a tent. A tent requires other sleeping gear, such as a sleeping bag, that adds to your pack weight. You could opt for a hammock, which weighs a bit less, or just a sleeping bag under the stars. If you’re going on a thru-hike, though, you should definitely have one of those things with you.

Should I Bring Trekking Poles on My Hike?

Trekking poles serve a variety of purposes. Their main intended purpose is to help you maintain stability on the trail. However, you can also use your poles as tent support, to hold up a second shelter, or to forage. 

What Does “Freestanding” Mean?

A freestanding tent requires poles to stand up. The poles aren’t attached to anything but the tent itself. With freestanding tents, you should use stakes to hold it to the ground to prevent it from tipping over or blowing away. Not-freestanding tents require rope, trees, and stakes to stay up.

Should I Choose Freestanding or Not-Freestanding?

A freestanding tent doesn’t require ropes in order to hold its shape, so you simply set it up, and that’s that. Freestanding tents are also easy to move. However, a not-freestanding tent will weigh significantly less since you won’t be burdened down with poles. Ultimately, the choice comes down to what type of tent you’re most comfortable setting up on the trail.

What Else Should I Bring With Me to Make My Tent Comfortable?

Comfort on the trail is incredibly subjective. Some campers are content with no comfort items at all, while others may prefer an air mattress and fluffy sleeping bag. You’ll need to factor in what will make for the best night’s sleep and what will ensure you’re rested in the morning.

Final Thoughts  

If you’re an avid hiker and want to give backpacking a go, a budget tent will be a great choice to get started. A more expensive tent might have better or different features than most budget tents, but as you can tell from this article, budget tents under $100 are pretty easy to come by. Whichever tent you choose, though, just remember to keep comfort in mind, and at the end of a long hike, you’ll be thankful you did.

Andrew Mullen

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