Best Budget Backpacking Tents

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

Not only is a tent one of the major purchases you might be looking to make as you prepare for your backpacking adventures, but it could also be one of the largest and heaviest items you have to pack. Unfortunately, tents are no exception to the general backpacking equipment rule that the lighter it is the more expensive it is. Fortunately, there are tents out there that will fit any budget. You just have to know where to look. 

To get you started, we’re going to show you a few of the best budget backpacking tents that will not only fit within your financial means but will also protect you from the elements without breaking your back. 

But first, a note about sharing. If you aren’t planning on backpacking solo then share a tent with your adventure buddies. Spread the weight around by separating the poles, stakes, etc. and reduce weight for yourself. Along those same lines, one big way to save money on a tent is not buying one. 🙂 If your friends’ already got one, just share with her, especially if you’re just getting started. You can always buy your own later when you’ve got more money or are getting more serious about backpacking.

Can’t Go Wrong With a Tarp

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

This is one of THE most inexpensive and lightest tent options ever. Period. Depending on the tarp your purchase you can have yourself a shelter for as little as $15 bucks. Maybe less. (On the other hand, you can also find snazzy, expensive tarps out there as well, so the price point is up to you.) Tarp shelters are great for hammock camping!

You’re going to need a tarp, some cordage, tent stakes, and a ground tarp if you’re into that kind of thing. (Ground tarps are good for protecting your other, more expensive gear like sleeping bags and pads.) Some would recommend a bug net as well, but whether or not you need one of these largely depends on where you plan to backpack.

Yes your tarp tent, unlike a traditional one, will have openings that you can’t close. But for warm-season camping, you might be surprised how much this doesn’t matter. The other downside to this method, strike that, let’s not even call it a downside. Another upside to this method is that you get to learn some cool knot-tying skills in order to set it up. 

A short list of useful knots to know for your tarp tent:

  1. Trucker’s hitch
  2. Bowline
  3. Taut-line hitch
  4. Prusik Knot
  5. Fisherman’s knot

We’ll try to get some knot tying instructional videos up on the site here as soon as possible. Until then, feel free to browse Youtube university to get yourself going.

If you’re not feeling the whole “tarp thing” then read on.

The Results are In

As I research these topics for you, one of my favorite things to do is put the question to the general backpacker community. I don’t want to give you my opinion alone because wisdom can actually be found in crowds when it comes to this sort of thing.

I asked as many people as I could for their favorite sub ~$150 backpacking tents, many, many people responded and the results, surprisingly, came to an overwhelming consensus.

MIER Ultralight/ 3F UL Gear Lanshan

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

Many people chose the MIER as their favorite tent, and many others said the Lanshan. But, in actuality, these tents are one and the same, hence why they are combined in the pie-chart. The only difference is that you can buy the Lanshan from aliexpress, which means it may be cheaper but potentially ships a lot slower. So I’m going to talk about them as if they’re one and the same, feel free to buy them from whichever merchant suits you.

The MIER is a very small backpacking tent that lives up to its ultralight name. The 2-person version packs down very small and only weighs 2.5 pounds which is pretty great for a tent at this price point. The 1-person tent is even lighter!

There’s a door on each side for easy access, especially if you’re stuffing two people into the tent. The rainfly is waterproof and the inner tent has a bathtub floor. You can set the rainfly and inner tent up independently of each other if you want just a tarp tent or a view for stargazing. A footprint is not included but you can purchase one for a bit of extra cash.

Setup requires trekking poles which could be a downside. If you don’t plan on carrying poles, then this tent is not for you. But despite using poles for its support and it’s lightweight design, the MIER can withstand very strong winds without fear of collapsing.

==> CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT <==

ALPS Mountaineering Mystique

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

In second place comes this little ALPS tent. It’s a 1.5 person so it might fit you and your dog depending on how big you are (or how big your dog is.) This is the lightest model in the ALPS line, and unlike the MIER, comes with 2 poles. This, of course, increases its weight to a minimum of just over 4 pounds.

The Mystique is a non-freestanding tent which means it requires the support of its guy lines to hold its shape. Stakes are included. It also has dual doors with large vestibules for storage and of course, a weatherproof rainfly.

One of the Mystiques major draws is that it is very easy to put up and take down. Also, the fact that ALPS is a reputable brand that stands behind its products with a limited lifetime warranty, doesn’t hurt.  

==> CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT <==

Ozark Trail 1-Person Backpacking Tent 

Yes, you can buy this tent at Walmart and no, that does not automatically mean the tent is low quality. So let’s not be snobs here, we are looking for bargains after all. 

There are a couple of different versions of this tent. One version, at 2.6 pounds (43oz), is just slightly more than the MIER ultralight above, and it comes with its own poles so you don’t have to carry trekking poles if you don’t want to. The other version is heavier at 3.4 lbs costs less than half as much.

Even at more than twice the cost, the 43 oz Ozark Trail tent is an absolute steal at a price point of under 80 dollars. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find this tent in stock. We’ll link you to the page and if you find it in stock, hurry and snatch that tent up before it’s gone. 

==>Click here to check availability<==

Either tent is easy to set up, has one large door and a vestibule for added storage space. The heavier tent is slightly taller with a tad more floor space as well.

==> CLICK HERE FOR THE 3.4LB TENT <==

Naturehike Cloud-Up

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

This tent is VERY similar in design to the Big Agnes Flycreek UL 2 but will save you a few hundred bucks if you take the Naturehike Cloud-Up over the Agnes. The doors, poles, and dimensions of both tents are almost exactly the same. The main difference is in weight.

The Cloud-Up weighs in at a 3lb 4oz including all accessories, whereas the Big Agnes Flycreek packaged weight is nearly a pound less. However, the Flycreek is a 3 season tent and the Cloud-Up is a 4 season tent. So the weight difference is understandable. 

The cloud-ups double layers and footprint are versatile and can be configured for any season and any weather. Take, only what you need for the situation and shave oz off of your trail weight!

==> CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT <==

Each of these tents came highly recommended by tons of real backpackers, so in the end, decide what you want to pay and how much you want to carry and choose the tent that matches those preferences.

I hope you enjoyed checking out these budget backpacking tents with me. If you end up purchasing one, please come back and tell the community here how it worked out for you.

Until then, feel free to leave us your own recommendations, comments, questions, or concerns in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “Best Budget Backpacking Tents

  1. Hello, I really appreciate your time and effort on writing about the best budget backpacking tents which is something I’ve been thinking about getting for our family vacation this summer.

    I never thought about getting a tarp but it’s very interesting because as long as you have a mosquito net and you’re using it during the hotter months and there’s not a whole lot of wind then it’ll probably work just as good as a tent. I love the cheap pricing and easy set up, but I think my kids will prefer a real tent.

    I’ll definitely think about getting the tarp for myself though, thank you for taking the time to do these reviews.

    1. Hey there,

      Camping with just a tarp can be great fun. It does require some knot tying skills though so make sure to practice before taking it out in the wild.

  2. These are all pretty cool, I like the tarp for it’s portability and cheapest and the mountaineer for the look. The main problem when I go camping is that when I use a tent I have to sleep on some very rough and uneven ground so I wanted a solution for this? Which of these can you customize to make it more comfortable?

    1. Hi Jon,

      The solution to the problem you have cannot necessarily be found in a tent. Tent floors provide little by way of ground padding. You will want to add a quality sleeping pad to your pack to help you stay comfortable on the rough ground. Or consider camping in a hammock so you can avoid laying on the ground altogether

      Keep an eye out for posts on this topic soon.

      In the meantime CLICK HERE for some suggestions on how to choose a sleeping pad.

  3. It’s just me.  I hike and camp with my sons, and I like my own space, so at my age, I need something light and easy to carry around.  Of course, I need it to fulfill the basic functions, like the ALPS Mountaineering Mystique.  I could even let Cyrus, my son’s dog, crash with me occasionally, lol.   Quick up and quick down, always a plus.  I may very well be sold on this one.

    1. It certainly sounds like the perfect tent for the situation you have described! If you end up getting one, take it for a test run and then come back and let us know how you liked it!

  4. Dear Mariah,

    In our church we go for camping with our youth group and in our recent meeting we decided to replace our old tents and go for the new backpacking tents. So far the past couple of days I was doing some research online on the best options and I found your helpful post today.

    Thanks a lot for the different options with detailed information on each tents. After reading your detailed post I will go with MIER Ultralight Tent 3 and it won’t be a wise thing to neglect the 49% people recommendation. Carrying poles is not an issue for us. So for our group we need to purchase at least 5-8 tents it seems.

    Nice article. I really enjoyed the content and in the manner that you presented.

    Much Success!

    Paul

    1. Hi Paul,

      I’m delighted my article could be of help to you, however for your situation, I would suggest looking for larger tents. Each tent on this list is small and will fit only one to two people. They are lightweight because they are meant for backpackers that will be carrying them for the duration of the hike.

      Does your church group plan on going backpacking? If not, you may be better served by larger group tents. Such as this one: Coleman Montana 8 person tent, that you can purchase for about the same price as one ultralight backpacking tent. They will be heavier but that is not an issue if you are driving to your campsite.