The 8 Best Budget Backpacking Tents for Globetrotting Adventures in November 2019

Backpacking with a tent is a no-brainer. Accommodation is, without a doubt, the absolute biggest budget killer of any great journey. And if you have any intention of backpacking around the world’s more expensive areas (Australasia, North America, Western Europe, etc.) it’s almost a necessity.

It’s also freedom. Why stay in a grotto backpacker dorm in a noisy, busy city when you could stay in a forest? Or on a beach… Or up a mountain! The options are endless!

Man considers sleeping somewhere special with his cheap camping

Where are you gonna sleep? Photo: Chris Lininger

Unfortunately, our fine providers of backpacking and outdoor gear have realised just how much we rely on these portable fabric bungalows. So, they’ve jacked up the price.

Would you like a cheap camping tent that’s likely to crumble at the first sign of trouble or our super-deluxe $400+ beast built to withstand a category 4 cyclone?

That’s how the proposition is usually phrased but why the hell are you camping in a category 4 cyclone anyway? The truth is you can make do easily on cheap backpacking tent. 

That doesn’t mean you don’t want the best cheap backpacking tent! You definitely want the best budget tent for your needs. Especially if you are going camping in that category 4 cyclone.

So let’s talk about that. I’ve rounded up the best budget backpacking tents you can get in several specified categories so you’ll find what suits ya, I’m sure. But before that, let’s talk about the considerations to make in how to choose the best backpacking tent for yourself.

But before even that, I wanna hit home on why I truly-dooly-diddly-doodly think it’s better to just buy a cheap budget tent.

Sleeping under the stars with a budget backpacking tent

This is why.

 

Quick Answer: The Best Budget Backpacking Tent

  1. Best Overall Budget Tent for Backpacking – REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus
  2. The Premium Budget Backpacking Tent for Long-Term Use – MSR Elixir 2
  3. The No-Frills Budget Backpacking Tent – REI Co-op Camp Dome 2
  4. The Best Lightweight Budget Backpacking Tent – Big Agnes C Bar 2
  5. The Best Budget 1 Person Backpacking Tent – Marmot Tungsten 1P
  6. The Best Budget 4-Season Backpacking Tent – NatureHike Cloud-Up
  7. The Best Budget Backpacking Tent for Long Stays – Slumberjack Nightfall 2
  8. The Bonus Entry – Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter
  9. Jump to -> Tent Reviews

 

How to Choose the Best Budget Backpacking Tent For You: Considerations to Make

Right, so you’re a backpacker and you’re, most likely, on a shoestring budget. That means you need to be a savvy consumer. That also means you need to know the difference between a minimum trail weight and a packaged weight. You need to know the difference between nylon-denier and polyester-denier. You need to know the difference between a guy-line, a byline, and a high Brian!

Ok, no you don’t: that shit’s boring. Also, there’s no such thing as a ‘high Brian’ (unless your name is Brian and you’re paragliding in Amsterdam).

Lots of 4 season backpacking tents under Kilimanjaro

My fave neighbourhood.

But you do need to know what you’re looking at! You wouldn’t go buy a car without knowing whether it was diesel or unleaded.

 

Cheap vs. Swagaliscious Backpacking Tents

I’m very much one of those ‘you don’t need a fancy tent’ folks (bar partaking in certain extreme activities). Do you know how I know?

Because I don’t even usually have a budget tent when I sleep outside and I do just fine! Even the cheapest backpacking tent would be an upgrade for me.

I want to tell you the story of my first (and only) backpacking tent. It was not, by any stretch, a budget backpacking tent: it was the real deal. It was expensive, it was a top-name brand, and it was one of those tents that when you pitch it at a campsite, other adventurers come up to comment on your tent and discuss best tent practices with you because clearly, you are a connoisseur of tents.

And it got wrecked beyond comprehension.

In Wellington (New Zealand), bugs ate holes in the floor (yes, through the footprint). In Invercargill, someone’s pooch got a bit excited while we slept and shredded the vestibules. And then, at some point on the country-long hitch to Cape Reinga, it just decided to stop being waterproof.

Like, I shit you not, it could be a dry night, I would layer a footprint and tarp beneath the tent, and I would wake up to a sopping wet tent floor. It was like The Gods truly just did not want me having a tent.

So, I left it behind. I told myself if I ever needed a tent again, I would just buy some mega-budget $20 Walmart/Kmart tent and ditch/pass it along when I was finished with it. And, I’ve been sleeping out under the stars ever since.

Now, I’m not suggesting you be like me. I am, by far-and-large, an extremely abnormal human being. Actually, I think you should have a tent: they’re warm, they’re dry (usually), and they’re a home-away-from-home.

I just feel that for most situations when backpacking (minus the obvious exceptions), a full-power tent is overkill. You can save the cash, get yourself something cheaper, and then when it dies (because nature always wins) you won’t be so salty that you cut your nose off to spite your face and spend the next 18 months sleeping outside.

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Your Travel Tent’s Price

So, now that you’re convinced that a cheap backpacking tent is the best route forward, you need to start looking at your variables. And variable numero uno is the price.

For, the record, the cheapest choice on our best budget backpacking tents list is sitting at $100 (well, $99.95). The most expensive choice is sitting at $250 which is what I would consider the upper limit of ‘budget’. There is one last more expensive entry but it’s a bonus choice and we’ll get to that later.

The best budget backpacking tents are free

Meanwhile, on the lower limit of ‘budget’. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

So, there’s your price range; see where you fit in. Anything less than $100 ($99.95) and you’re getting to the point where you may as well get a Walmart tent and anything more than $250 and you may as well check out our best backpacking tents roundup.

 

Your Travel Tent’s Size

There are a few different aspects of your backpacking tent that I’ve lumped under the umbrella category of ‘size’:

  • Capacity – One man, two man, three man: you get the idea. Consider your tent’s capacity to be a maximum loading. A 2 person backpacking tent is roomy with one, squishy with two, and you’ll be sleeping vertically stacked with a third person inside.
  • Weight – This is probably the most crucial aspects to look at when choosing the best budget tent for yourself. Remember how I made that crack about ‘minimum trail weight’ vs. actual weight? Yeah, that’s actually relevant.
    A ‘minimum trail weight’ is the weight of the bare-minimum components required to set up the tent which usually means just the body and poles (i.e. it’s marketing spin). A ‘packaged weight’ is the weight of the entire package it comes in out of the box including the stakes, rainfly, and whatever else.
    In this roundup, I’ve listed the packaged weights of the tents. Chances are your backpacking tent’s true weight in your backpack will be slightly less but it’s a much more accurate metric than the minimum weight.
  • Packed dimensions – Quite simply, how much space your tent takes up in your backpack when it’s not in use.
  • Unpacked dimension – The size of your tent when it is set up. The most important thing to look at here is the height (which equates to your headroom) and the floor space. It’s also worth noting that the shape of your tent affects the size: vertical walls have a much roomier feel than walls tapered inwards.
A man hiking with a cheap ultralight tent

A dramatic picture of a guy, a mountain, and his tent. What’s he thinking about? Probably where to poop.

 

Your Travel Tent’s Livability

And since we’re talking about the roominess of your travel tent, let’s talk about livability. Basically, livability means how nice it is to chill-out in.

Storytime number two! Before I got my tragically fated mega-tent, I had a small (though, not bivy-small) cheap one-person backpacking tent. 

It lasted two nights. How’d it end? With waking up at 2 A.M. having a claustrophobic panic attack pitched in the yard of a Hare Krishna temple.

That wasn’t the first time either. A couple of years prior I’d woken up in a swag at doof (hippy festival) thinking I was Tutankhamun and had been mummified and entombed resulting in another panic attack (which my now ex-girlfriend refused to wake up for and assist me with).

A bivy sack makes for the ultimate ultralight hiking tent

Hah, yeah, no, hard pass.

Recently, after nearly two years of sleeping out at train yards, bus stations, forests, and graveyards next to exposed human remains (true story) I tried sleeping in a swag again at another doof thinking I’d levelled up. I lasted ten minutes. I’m starting to think, I might have an issue with small spaces.

My point is, give some serious thought to your travel tent’s livability because, after all, you are travelling and it is your home. On the days when it’s pissing down rain, or you’ve been stranded somewhere longer than expected, or coyotes are waiting to pounce the moment you to exit your tent, you could be spending some solid extended hours inside.

 

Your Budget Backpacking Tent’s Endurance

Again, I’ve lumped a few different aspects in this category:

  • Seasons – You’ve probably already heard the term 3-season or 4-season backpacking tent. As a general rule of thumb, 3-season tents tend to be good for most climates whereas a 4-season tent is specially built for winter and the snow.
    All the backpacking tents on this list (minus a couple of outlined 4-season choices) are 3-season tents. Consider a 3-season your all-purpose backpacking tent whereas the 4-season tents are for more specialised campers. Oh, and forget about 1 and 2-season because they’re dumb and pointless.
  • Weather resistance – This is fairly connected to the tent’s ‘season’ but is also intrinsic to your tent’s overall design. Even the most budget tent for backpacking purposes should at least be rainproof (I think we can all agree on that) and be able to stand up to substantial winds. You’d also want your 4-season tent to withstand snowfall.
  • Durability – By which I mean how long your tent will last (by way of the material it’s constructed from). As my New Zealand anecdote illustrates, even top-notch material can let you down but it’s still an important factor to consider when choosing a cheap camping tent. A tent is meant to keep you warm and stay standing in the wind: it’s not meant to survive encounters with animals.

 

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Don't get a cheap 4 season camping tent for real winter conditions

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The Top 8 Best Budget Backpacking Tents

IMAGE PRODUCT
tbb-table__image Best Overall Budget Tent for BackpackingBest Overall Budget Tent for BackpackingREI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus

  • Price $$$
  • Packaged Weight: 5.5 lb (2.5 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
  • Price $$$
  • Packaged Weight: 5.5 lb (2.5 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
VIEW ON REI
tbb-table__image Premium Budget Backpacking Tent for Long-Term UsePremium Budget Backpacking Tent for Long-Term UseMSR Elixir 2

  • Price $$$$
  • Packaged Weight: 6 lb (2.7 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
  • Price $$$$
  • Packaged Weight: 6 lb (2.7 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
VIEW ON REI
tbb-table__image Best Lightweight Budget Backpacking TentBest Lightweight Budget Backpacking TentBig Agnes C Bar 2

  • Price $
  • Packaged Weight: 5 lb (2.3 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
  • Price $
  • Packaged Weight: 5 lb (2.3 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
VIEW ON REI
tbb-table__image Best Budget 1 Person Backpacking TentBest Budget 1 Person Backpacking TentMarmot Tungsten 1P

  • Price $$$
  • Packaged Weight: 4 lb (1.8 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
  • Price $$$
  • Packaged Weight: 4 lb (1.8 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
VIEW ON REI
tbb-table__image Best Budget 4-Season Backpacking TentBest Budget 4-Season Backpacking TentNatureHike Cloud-Up

  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 3.75 lb (1.7 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 3.75 lb (1.7 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
VIEW ON REI
tbb-table__image Best Budget 4-Season Backpacking TentBest Budget 4-Season Backpacking TentNatureHike Cloud-Up

  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 4.9 lb (2.2 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 4.9 lb (2.2 kg)
  • Footprint: Yay
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tbb-table__image Best Budget Backpacking Tent for Long StaysBest Budget Backpacking Tent for Long StaysSlumberjack Nightfall 2

  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 5.6 lb (2.6 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
  • Price $$
  • Packaged Weight: 5.6 lb (2.6 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
VIEW ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image The Bonus EntryThe Bonus EntryBlack Diamond Mega Light Shelter

  • Price $$$$
  • Packaged Weight: 2.8 lb (1.3 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
  • Price $$$$
  • Packaged Weight: 2.8 lb (1.3 kg)
  • Footprint: Nay
VIEW ON AMAZON

Sweet, now you know what you’re looking at! So now when I start throwing around terms like ‘3-season freestanding dome tent with tapered walls’, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I mean, don’t stress it, it’s a budget tent: you pitch it, you sleep in it, and then you wake up to catch the sunrise. Easy, man!

But, it’s also your new home for an extended while so it’s actually extremely stressful and the pressure is on. You better get this right or your partner will leave you and your family will disown you and your dog will die.

Sorry, am I sending mixed messages? Let’s do this.

 

1. REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus – Best Overall Budget Tent for Backpacking

REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus - Best Overall Budget Tent for Backpacking

  • 3-Season
  • 1/2/3/4 Person Models Available

Here it is: the best choice for a cheap 2 person backpacking tent! The REI Half Dome 2 Plus wins the draw on sheer merit of all-round excellence. It’s one of the more expensive tents on this list (though not the most expensive) but the trade-off is that you’re getting a bloody terrific tent at significantly less cost than many others in this category.

So who’s this tent for? The 2 person model is for two people (oh really, no shit, Sherlock). Wait, hold on, lemme finish my point. Most 2 person tents tend to be squishy with two people and that’s where the Half Dome Plus differs.

The Half Dome is roomy; it’s like having a little fabric bungalow all to yourself. Vertical walls create a much more spacious environment (with a lot more headroom) while the tent’s floor space is a staggering 38.1 square feet (3.5 m2)! That mops the floor(space) with every other tent on this list.

So what else makes this the best 2 person budget backpacking tent. It has double doors with double vestibules, interior pockets – like an absolutely ridiculous amount of pockets. As someone who wears glasses from wakey-time to sleepy-time, I’d just like to say that tents without interior pockets should burn in a fire. It’s also got interior loops for hanging things inside the tent and the ventilation of the Half Dome is incredibly on point.

So what’s the drawback with the REI Half Dome? Well, it’s weighty, clocking in at 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) and that’s why I say this is a tent designed for two people. The spaciousness of the tent has been given great thought, the durability of the materials has been upped to prevent any premature tent death, and at the cost of all that, you have a tent that’s pack-load is better shared between two people.

All around, REI knew who they were aiming for with this tent and they well and truly hit the mark. If I wasn’t perpetually alone and unloved, this would be the tent I’d share with someone – no doubt whatsoever. The only real bummer with the REI Half Dome Plus 2 is that the footprint is sold separately but you’re going to notice that’s a recurring theme with these cheap backpacking tents. 

 It also comes in a 1 man3 man, and 4 man model too for even more portable bungalow adventures and there’s a full review detailing just how sheer-bloody awesome this tent is right here!

View on REI

 

2. MSR Elixir 2 – The Premium Budget Backpacking Tent for Long-Term Use

MSR Elixir 2 - The Premium Budget Backpacking Tent for Long-Term Use

  • 3-Season
  • 2/3/4 Person Models Available

MSR make damn good tents. So good, in fact, that the MSR Hubba tents made the top pick for both our best backpacking tent and our best 3 person tent. I also know because it was the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 I had in New Zealand. 

But you said that tent was crap and not to waste money on an expensive tent!

No! I said that nature stomped me and The Gods hate me. The tent itself was goddamn spectacular!

So, why doesn’t the MSR Elixir 2 make the cut as the best budget backpacking tent, then? Because it’s:

  1. A splash too heavy and bulky for my liking and…
  2. On the very upper limit of what I’m comfortable considering ‘budget’.

All that said, it’s still up there as one of the best 2 person tents for backpacking out there (that isn’t cripplingly expensive).

The tent’s material is top-notch and of trademark MSR quality; this thing is built to last (excluding any guerrilla assaults from subterranean sources). It has double doors, double vestibules (and MSR does good vestibules), and my favourite ‘this shouldn’t impress me as much as it does’ feature: a glow-in-the-dark zipper!

As for the specs? The MSR Elixir 2 weighs in at 6 lb (2.7 kg) with a floor space of 29 square feet (2.7m2).  (Don’t worry, I’ll give you a spec comparison chart at the end of the list because everybody knows how fun having a buttload of numbers thrown in your face is.)

Oh, and it comes with the footprint included – yay!

View on REI

 

3. REI Co-op Camp Dome 2 – The Best No-Frills Budget Backpacking Tent

REI Co-op Camp Dome 2 - The Best Budget Budget Backpacking Tent

  • 3-Season
  • 2/4 Person Models Available

Even amongst the budget 2 person backpacking tents there needs to be a cheapest and most budget. Enter the REI Camp Dome: it’s the no-frills counterpart to the already cheap-as-chips Half Dome. The REI Dome is also one of the best backpacking tents under $100… because it’s $99.95 – hah!

So what does the home brand tent experience offer? Exactly what you’d expect: a tighter and more cramped night’s sleep at a cheaper price.

The tent is solid. It’s got double doors and pitching it is a total breeze! But the catch comes with the rainfly…

It doesn’t actually form vestibules so much as… let’s call them… wings. That means your overall rain protection is shoddy at best and stashing your gear outside the tent in any sort of rainfall is not a good idea. If you have two people plus gear in wet weather… you’re gonna have to suck in to fit.

On the plus side, the reduction in the size of the rainfly brings the weight down to 5 lb (2.3 kg) making this an extremely cheap option for a lightweight backpacking tent. Of course, that’s without the footprint which, as you probably guessed, doesn’t come included in the ultra-budget package.

If you’re travelling with a tarp (love me a good tarp), you can counter some of the issues with the REI Camp Dome but, honestly, at that point, you may as well just shell out the extra dollars for the Half Dome and have a tent that’ll keep you satisfied for a while.

If you’re keen on the REI Dome though, it also comes in a 4 person model making it a good choice for a cheap 4 person tent too.

View on REI

 

4. Big Agnes C Bar 2 – The Best Lightweight Budget Backpacking Tent

Big Agnes C Bar 2 - The Best Lightweight Budget Backpacking Tent

  • 3-Season
  • 2/3 Person Models Available

Alright, Big Agnes: these guys do really solid tents as well and the Big Agnes C Bar 2 is no exception. However, it comes at a catch: it’s small. Although, what did you expect from a budget lightweight tent?

So how small is it? Well, it would be fairer to call this 2 person tent a 1.5 person tent. If you’re travelling as a pair, you’re either going to want to chop someone in half or just get used to farting on each other pretty quick. The design leaves very little wiggle room around the shoulders and the walls taper in just to make matters worse.

But there is an upside to the C Bar’s squishiness: it’s light! Four pounds (1.8 kg)! If you are a travelling pair and you aren’t bothered by the sleep farts, that’s a seriously small pack addition for a shelter for two.

Oh yeah, footprint… it doesn’t come with one but that’s fair for such a lightweight 2 (1.5) person tent coming in at such a cheap amount.

The Big Agnes has only one door and vestibule. This design choice means that stashing 2 peoples gear is a nightmare (it’s gonna be a Jenga-type scenario) but it also means you get excellent rain protection. Once you’re locked in, you’re locked in.

Overall, if you’re travelling long-term as a pair, this probably isn’t the best budget backpacking tent for you. Eventually, you’ll have an argument. Eventually, you’ll want space and that’s when a night farting on each other really turns sour.

But, if you’re backpacking solo, the Big Agnes presents an excellent option as a cheap lightweight one man tent because you’ll have that extra 0.5 of a human worth of space.

 

View on REI

 

5. Marmot Tungsten 1P – The Best Budget 1 Person Backpacking Tent

Marmot Tungsten 1P - The Best Budget 1 Person Backpacking Tent

  • 3-Season
  • 1/2/3/4 Person Models Available

If you’re in the market for an actual budget 1 person backpacking tent though, let’s talk about the Marmot Tungsten 1P. It’s a sweet choice for the solo adventurer who isn’t expecting a “cuddle” buddy anytime soon.

It’s a good tent at a tight price. Tight is apt – it is a cheap 1 person tent after all – but it still doesn’t have that coffin feel. The walls are vertical creating a much roomier space and the D-shaped door and vestibule are on the side meaning you can open up for even more spaciousness (weather permitting).

The Marmot Tungsten is also made of solid material and is extremely durable (Marmot is good for this). It’s even got the bonus feature of a ‘lampshade pocket’. Stash your headlamp in there and you’ve got yourself some ambient lighting (too bad there’s not enough room to accommodate that cuddle buddy). This isn’t necessarily a feature unique to the Marmot Tungsten but it’s always a dope addition all the same.

The Marmot Tungsten 1P weighs in at 3.75 lb (1.7 kg) meaning it doesn’t quite make the cut as a budget ultralight tent, but it’s pretty damn feathery all the same! They’ve also lovingly included the footprint.

As far as your options for a cheap one man tent go, the Marmot Tungsten is one of your best choices. It’s a cheap one person tent that doesn’t feel like its quality has been sacrificed for the budget restrictions.

View on REI

 

6. NatureHike Cloud-Up – The Best Budget 4-Season Backpacking Tent

NatureHike Cloud-Up - The Best Budget 4-Season Backpacking Tent

  • 4-Season
  • 1/2/3 Person Model Available

Coming in with a 1, 2, or 3 person model is the NatureHike Cloud-Up for the best budget 4-season tent. The more friends you can pack in the warmer it gets!

Now, realistically, you’re taking a calculated risk with a budget 4-season tent. For more extreme conditions it tends not to stinge on your gear given that… you know… hypothermia thing. Still, the NatureHike Cloud-Up is a good option if you’re determined on buying from the budget end of the spectrum. It’s lightweight, it’s cheap, and it will still hold its own in winter conditions. Let’s call it a backpacker’s 4-season tent.

It’s a one door tent with the door at the head to create a tighter enclosure. As a shelter, it can take anything short of pitched on a blizzardy mountainside but problems present with the vestibule. The Cloud-Up’s vestibule only extends shortly past the door so opening it in a downpour is going to result in an interior paddle-pool.

Shaving a bit off the vestibule and floor space, however, means shaving a bit off the load in your pack. The two person model weighs in at 4.9 lb (2.2 kg) making it a good weight for a cheap 4-season tent. Even though it’s a squishy fit, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the extra body (fart) warmth of another human considering the weather conditions this tent is designed for, 

And as a runner-up honourable mention for a 4-season backpacking tent is the Black Diamond Firstlight. It didn’t make the cut as a best ‘budget’ option but if you’re looking for a winter tent that balances the line between price and livability, it’s one fine-lookin’ shelter!

View on Amazon

 

7. Slumberjack Nightfall 2 – The Best Budget Backpacking Tent for Long Stays

Slumberjack Nightfall 2 - The Best Budget Backpacking Tent for Long Stays

  • 3-Season
  • 2/3 Person Models Available

I think we’ve all been there. We roll into tranquil little town unsure of what we’ll find only to discover that there’s free-living down at the river camped with all the hippies, backpackers, and ferals. All you need is a tent to pitch…

Fast forward two weeks and you’re still pitched at your riverside gypsy camp. Not all campsites are of the temporary in-between-hitchhikes variety. The Slumberjack Nightfall is for those extended stays.

This cheap tent is far from ultralight but the extra ounces it packs in makes for a much more livable experience. It’s durable, it’s weather-resistant, and it has actual headroom. Chuck in a couple throw pillows and that duvet that washed ashore the rocks last night and you’ve got yourself a cosy little pad!

It’s also got one of my absolute favourite features ever: the vestibule extends out and can be pitched to create an awning. Believe me, for an unexpected long-stay in unfavourable conditions, that’s a mean trick. You can pitch the awning with trekking poles or I’m quite sure you could scavenge up some metal poles from the river’s edge too.

All that bonus chill-out space does come with the extra weight though: 5.6 lb (2.6 kg) without the footprint. But, if livability is something you’re craving in your backpacking tent (that’s a good choice), the Nightfall has actual damn headroom!

You’ll be grateful for that when you’re stuck in the bubble town.

View on Amazon

 

8. Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter – The Bonus Entry

Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter - The Bonus Entry

  • 4-Season
  • 4 Person Model Available

Right, so this one is a bit of a weird entry but bear with me for a second. It’s certainly past the limit for a budget backpacking tent but the versatility of this shelter makes up for the extra price.

This is a 4 season ‘tent’ though shelter much more aptly describes the Black Diamond Mega Light. There’s no floor. Now, hold on, before you tell me how blisteringly stupid that is, just hear me out!

The Black Diamond is a somewhat budget 4-season shelter. Tested up to winds of 50mph, it can handle winter conditions (though, with a bit of a draft considering that whole ‘no floor’ thing). 

Of course, that makes it an option for a cheap ultralight tent usable in any weather scenario. It comes in at 2.8 lb (1.3 kg) and there is a floor/bug netting sold separately but it adds another 3.5 lb (1.6 kg). Finally, the shelter has a whopping floor space of 50.7 square feet (4.7m2) meaning there’s room to sleep up to four humans.

It’s not stealthy – if urban camping is your jam – but it is roomy. It also has the extra nifty feature of being able to be supported using a trekking pole instead of the pole it travels with. That means dropping that weight even more.

So, yup, it’s a weird concept but it works in execution. It’ll meet the needs of any sized crew in nearly any weather conditions. The downside is you’re paying an extra premium for the versatility of use… well, that and the lack of flooring.

Oh, and there’s no footprint… duh

View on Amazon

 

The Best Travel Backpack?!
Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Backpack.

Check out this post to read our full review!

For the best budget backpacking tent under 100 consider a camping hammock

Ahhhh, dat life.

 

The Best Budget Backpacking Tent – Round-Up of the Round-Up

 

That’s it, your top 8 choices for the best budget backpacking tent. There’s a flavour for everybody! There’s even the equivalent of strawberry flavour for if you’re one of those weirdos that like strawberry flavour!

A lime-based pictorial metaphor of the cheapest backpacking tent

You’re a terrible human being. | image source: FlyingToaster (Wikipedia)

So, I promised you a comparison round-up up the best budget tents. Yay, tables! Yay, stats! Yay, imperial to metric conversions!

 

The Stats, Specs, and Digits

For the savvy consumer:

TentPersonsSeasonWeight (Packaged)FootprintFloor SpaceHeightMaterial
REI Half Dome 2 Plus2 (plus 1, 3, and 4 models available)35.5 lb
(2.5 kg)
Nay38.1 square feet
(3.5 metres squared)
44 inches
(111.8 cm)
Ripstop Nylon/Taffeta Nylon
MSR Elixir 22 (plus 3 and 4 models available)36 lb
(2.7 kg)
Yay29 square feet
(2.7 metres squared)
40 inches
(101.6 cm)
Coated Ripstop Nylon/Polyester
REI Co-op Camp Dome 22 (4 model available)35 lb
(2.3 kg)
Nay31.5 square feet
(2.9 metres squared)
43 inches
(109.2 cm)
Nylon/Polyester
Big Agnes C Bar 21.5 (plus 3 model available)34 lb
(1.8 kg)
Nay28 square feet
(2.6 metres squared)
41 inches
(104.1 cm)
Polyester/Polyester Taffeta
Marmot Tungsten 1P1 (plus 2, 3 and 4 models available)33.75 lb
(1.7 kg)
Yay20 square feet
(1.9 metres squared)
38 inches
(96.5 cm)
Polyester Taffeta
NatureHike Cloud-Up 22 (plus 1 and 3 models available)44.9 lb
(2.2 kg)
Yay28.8 square feet
(2.7 metres squared)
49.4 inches
(100 cm)
Ripstop Nylon
Slumberjack Nightfall 22 (plus 3 model available)35.6 lb
(2.6 kg)
Nay31.4 square feet
(2.9 metres squared)
39.5 inches
(100.3 cm)
Polyester
Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter442.8 lb
(1.3 kg)
Nay50.7 square feet
(4.7 metres squared)
57 inches
(145 cm)
SilNylon
A swagman with a mega budget camping tent for backpacking

Ugh, imperial conversions…

 

One Last Tip for Choosing the Right Backpacking Tent

Get the rest of your sleep system right! I’m serious, I would honestly argue that your tent is not the most crucial factor for getting a decent night’s sleep on the road. Getting the remainder of your sleeping system right goes a long way to keeping that body warmth up, especially if you’re planning on getting a cheap budget tent.

The cheapest backpacking tent complimented by a rocking sleep system

Now that’s a good sleep system!

It’s super important to put forethought into:

  • Your sleeping bag – DON’T SKIMP ON THIS! Buying a cheap sleeping bag is probably one of the sloppiest mistakes I made when I first left travelling. Two years in a synthetic budget bag under bridges and in parks is not the elegant choice.
    I’d recommend having a read on our content for the best backpacking sleeping bags. It’s got a nice spread of good selections from the price-conscious to the ‘what even is being cold’ variety.
  • Your sleeping pad – I wouldn’t consider it as integral as a sleeping bag, but a sleeping pad obviously goes a long way towards keeping you comfortable. Not lying on rocks, sticks, and ant’s nests is a solid plus and the extra insulation keeps you off the (freezing-bloody-cold) ground.
    Here’s a round-up of our favourite sleeping pads for backpacking and camping: light, warm, and softer than an unfortunately located pine cone.
  • Your sleeping bag liner I love these. They’re soft and they add a few degrees: it’s the bedsheet of your backpacking sleep system! As an added bonus they’ll keep that fancy sleeping bag you just bought cleaner for longer. If you’re looking for a recommendation, this is mine: it’s comfortable and it hasn’t let me down yet.
  • Your bedclothes – Suit up right before you hit the sack! Clean underwear, warm and dry clothes, and loose-fitting enough to keep you warm but not so much that you sweat in your sleep. It’s important!

 

A cheap tent with a good sleep system

Welcome home.

 

Final Thoughts on Buying the Best Budget Backpacking Tent

It’s kind of just logical to travel with a tent. Did a long day of hitching end in the middle of nowhere between two stops? No problem! Is the guesthouse out of rooms but you can pitch a tent in the backyard for a third of the price? Boom!

It’s also logical to not splash all your travel savings on the most expensive backpacking gear when you don’t know if you’ll need it. Like my old sleeping bag choice, you may realise that to go the no-frills route was a terrible mistake. Or, like my deceased tent, you may realise you never needed it in the first place.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. Maybe the best budget backpacking tent isn’t for you. Maybe you want the real deal. Hell, maybe you just want a hammock (good choice).

Tents, though, are worth the investment. Take it from someone who hasn’t had one in a while. It’s good to have a home.

A budget backpacking tent camping on the beach

This is also why.

 

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