Top 8 affordable backpacking tents for practical hikers

8 affordable backpacking tents for practical hikers

Here we will look at some great affordable backpacking tents to suit your needs. 

See what I did with the headline  “… for practical hikers“, ah well I promise this is the last bad pun here!

I warn you, this article is full of specs and geeking out on how they managed to fit those features in these affordable backpacking tents.  Buying an expensive tent is easy. Finding great affordable backpacking tents that balance weight, reliability, and features is a whole different ball game. Finding such bargains is what this article is all about!

Here I will show you some interesting double wall tent options,  from 1 person to 3 person tents. All of the tents I’ve chosen on the list are 3 seasons. I’ll throw in a few budget 4 season tents that won’t break your back just for good measure.

I’m not making any promises about the back though, those things are heavy!

How affordable you might ask?

Well as I said earlier I will only show you affordable backpacking tents with useful features, that actually come in handy. The price range starts from and stays for quite a while around 100$, hovers around 200$ and ends below 300$ for the  4 season options that are a bargain for what they offer! Ya, 4 season tents are expensive, who knew!?

Things to note if they are not mentioned in the reviews – all the tents have waterproof bathtub design floors so you won’t have to worry about that. The tents do have inside mesh pockets to store your gear and if I fail to mention that, it is for the benefit of other features that stand out and I want to accent on.  The aluminum poles are all some version of 7000 series so you don’t have to worry about their strength and flexibility.

I’ve gone in to detail what to look for in a good backpacking tent in this article!

You can pick any of these tents for not a lot of money compared to the more expensive alternatives and be a happy backpacker, so let’s see what I’ve got for you!

 

Best budget 2 person tents

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent

Packed weight: 5 lbs. 15 oz

Dimensions: 7’6’’x 5’x 46’’ center hight

Footprint: BYOF (Bring Your Own Footprint)

We are starting off with one of the most affordable and popular 2 person tents currently on the market. Although I’d say it’s a  1+ person because 2 people would not fit comfortably in there unless you are on top of each other but that is a whole different story. It has 2 doors and 2 reasonably big vestibules for all your gear. The mesh loft pocket on the ceiling of the tent is slanted downwards so be aware of that when you want to put loose items there. For the price, this is a good 3 season tent, nice and breathable with vent pockets and even a small window to let in a bit of light when the fly is on. Keep in mind that as well as you can see out, people can see in. So take that into consideration.

Granted it is on the heavy side, but then again it is also a budget tent with good features. The aluminum poles are nice and flexible, but I’d get rid of the provided bendable stakes and get aftermarket stakes.

To prolong the life of the tent you can also get the footprint that ALPS has designed for it and you will have a great value durable tent. There is also a lighter 1 person version of the Lynx that is worth checking out if you want to save more weight and don’t mind the snug fit. Anyone on a tight budget would get good use out of the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx, as well as a good workout while hauling it up and down the trails. 

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight

Packed weight: 3.86 lbs

Dimensions: 89″ x 52″ x 42″

Footprint: not included

This is an oddly shaped tent. I like the 1 door solution saving weight and not having to run over your tent mate to reach the door. The tent has 1 huge vestibule that can easily fit 2 backpacks and hiking boots. While it may be snug, 2 people can be reasonably comfortable. And did you see the packed weight?  Below 4 pounds, sign me up.

Ok, so it does not come with a footprint, but that can be easily remedied with a piece of tarp or nylon that I preach ever so often. And I’d carry it gladly to protect the floor of this gem of a tent. Yes, I like it very much. Even the added hanging light dispersing pocket over the ceiling for a lamp has me smiling. The design is very well thought out and it makes it easy to use. Like the previous tent, I’d recommend buying aftermarket stakes. There is a big mesh pocket on each side near the door for each person to store small items. Everything is color coded to make it easy to raise the tent without much hassle. All in all, this can be your one and only 3 season tent for solo and duo backpacking. Did I mention it’s lightweight, 3,86 pounds.

Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person Tent

Packed weight: 5 lbs 9 oz

Dimensions: 92″ x 56″ x 43″

Footprint: provided (pinch me I’m dreaming)

I can’t talk about 2 person backpacking tents and not mention the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 person tent. This is one of the best budget tents you can get for the money.  It can fit 2 people. The 2 door 2 vestibules will make the experience more comfortable. There are nice mesh pockets on each side and a big gear loft hanging from the top. The aluminum poles are color coded so each one matches a specific side of the tent grommets. The rain fly is also color coded which is a nice touch. The guylines are nice and brightly colored so you don’t trip over them when you walk around the tent. Most importantly, it comes with a footprint.

Oh, how I missed saying that!

The footprint is a little smaller than the floor of the tent so it does not funnel water under it. The stakes are ok, but again I’d get better ones.  It might not be the lightest tent but for such a budget-friendly price this is a great 2 person backpacking tent, that can actually fit 2 people and it comes with its own footprint!

Kelty Salida 2

Packed weight: 4 lbs. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 88” x 43” x 55”

Footprint: not included

This is another great value proposition. The Kelty Salida 2 can actually fit 2 people along with a small dog. Sadly there is only 1 door and a big vestibule for all your gear. For the price and weight, I’m willing to forgive that missing door. It’s easy to pitch up, the rain fly edges are color coded. I like the small attention to detail that has been put on the clips of the tent that attach to the poles (double hooks grabbing on to the poles on both sides instead of a single hook). The inside has a huge mesh gear loft hanging from the ceiling and very small triangular mesh pockets for small items on the sides. Because it does not have ventilation pockets on the fly you have to guy out the back of the tent so it lets more air in to prevent condensation.

The stakes again I’d replace with the MSR Groundhog stakes. It does not come with a footprint, but there is one sold separately. All this comes together to be a good lightweight budget friendly backpacking tent for less humid environments. Try saying that 3 times fast.

Best budget 1 person tents

Snugpak Ionosphere 1

Packed weight: 3.35 lbs

Dimensions: 94” x 44” x 28”

Footprint: not included

It looks more like a beefed up bivy then the regular one person tents. You won’t be able to sit up in it, it does not have a vestibule, so why do I bother to show it to you? Well for starters, this is a great lightweight tough one man tent. Emphasis on tough. This is not a free-standing tent, you have to be able to stake it down. Surprisingly the Snugpack has stakes that I don’t want to throw away the moment I see them. They are nice and sturdy and inspire confidence that they will keep your tent in its place and won’t bend easily. The 2 aluminum poles are color coded and easy to attach. The tent is reasonably lightweight and very durable, did I mention that Is durable?! It has more stakes than you’d need and enough hooking points for guy lines so it can survive in severe weather. The only way you will get wet in this tent is if you spill your water bottle! Seriously this is a very good reliable one person tent!

I came across multiple reports of military men having this tent and putting it through heavy use for years and they are still happy with it. If it managed to survive that, then it’s better then good enough for me. A well worth investment for solo backpacking.

ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 1.5-Person

Packed weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz.

Dimensions: 96″ x 48″ x 36″

Footprint:  not included

This is a roomy tent for 1 person and can easily fit 2 lovers. Don’t quote me on the last one though. It’s odd to see 2 doors and two vestibules in a 1 person tent, I think it would have saved more weight if they just went for a 1 door, 1 vestibule solution seen as this is a 1+ tent where you can sleep along with your dog. Never the less this is a nice little tent. It has a single big supported vent at the front and a tiny window on the rain fly to let more light in when its on. The stakes again – replace them. You can use the custom fitting footprint sold separately or a tarp to prolong the life of the tent floor.

The weight is a bit high for a one person tent, but seeing as this is the roomy 1 person kind I’m willing to forgive it. The budget-friendly price also helps with the argument! The main reason to pick this over the Snugpack would be to have enough headroom to sit up in the tent and be able to change your clothes inside. It is roomier and less claustrophobic if that is a concern. A great little 1 person tent for not a lot of money even with the separately sold footprint it is still a bargain!

4 season affordable backpacking tents

ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2

Packed weight: 7lbs. 15 oz.

Dimensions: Base – 5’2 x 7’8; Center Height 46”

Footprint: not included

Ok, here’s an odd beast. Usually, 4 season tents cost an arm and a leg but this one is quite affordable. The original asking price is 350$ but if you click on the link you can get it for almost half that. So what does it offer other than a few extra pounds of weight? Well, It is actually a 2 person tent that can comfortably fit 2 people. The vestibules are huge,  you can easily store your gear and cook there. Did I mention how huge the vestibules are? Humungous compared to the rest of the tents on the list. This adds another layer of protection against the elements. Inside the tent, you have a nice zipper gear loft and zipper vents. There are big mesh pockets covering the lower part of the walls of the tent providing seemingly endless amount of storage space.

The footprint is sold separately and I would buy it because it completes the entire set up very nicely. The rainfly has a hydrostatic pressure of 1500 which can withstand a heavy rainstorm. Granted the thing weighs a ton, but I would not knock it down for that because this is probably the cheapest reliable 4 season tent that you can buy!

Snugpak Scorpion 3  

I promise there’s a cool tactical picture on the other end of the link!

Packed weight: 7.5 lbs.

Dimensions: 80×78″ sleeping area 

Footprint: not included

Check out this monster. This is another 4 season tent. This one can take a lot of abuse. The rainfly is so waterproof that not even the mightiest of storms can penetrate it. And the stakes, oh the stakes like it’s little 3 season 1 person brother are of good quality. It’s those details that make me like this tent even more. The interior walls are filled with mesh pockets, There are 3 vent pockets on the sides of the walls. It is a 3 person tent and it can fit 2 people for maximum comfort or 3 people snugly.  There are a lot of guy out points to secure the tent in windy conditions. There is also a cheaper 2 person version which is lighter and less roomy but still a good 1 man option with snug room for 2.

An odd thing about the scorpion line up is that when you pitch it you start with the rain fly first then attach the inner body to the fly. It is a bit finicky but once you get the hang of it the set up is quite straightforward. It has 1 big door and a corresponding 1 big vestibule. You can use this tent with confidence in the harshest of winters and it will keep you warm and dry. It’s not a cheap tent by any means, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anything remotely close to its price for what it offers as an affordable  4 season backpacking tent.

Conclusion

So there you have it  – 8 affordable backpacking tents. Each with its own unique features to accommodate different comfort levels. Whether you like to carry a lightweight and tough one person tent or a roomy 3 person, 4 seasons burly tent,  there is one that can suit your needs and your pocket. Let me know in the comments below what are your favorite affordable backpacking tents and why do you like them! What features do you use the most and what features would make it perfect for you?

Happy hiking!

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