So, you enjoyed that camping trip last summer with your friends. And you have decided that you want to go on hiking trips regularly. Of course, you want to start investing in your own gear, which includes a backpacking tent.
But, before spending hundreds of dollars on high-end tents, you can get started on a solid entry-level option. This will allow you to learn your gear, its set-up, and maintenance. It will also serve as the basis for the features that you want in your future purchase.
While there are not a lot of options under $100, there are a few good tents that will provide the basic functionalities for your next trip. These tents will not include all the features that most popular brands have. But, they will be enough to protect you from the elements while keeping your backpack light.
In this article, we will explore the best backpacking tents under $100. We will cover their best features and identify some shortcomings. Additionally, we have included a buying guide to help you choose your first tent without breaking the bank.
Overview of the Best Backpacking Tents Under $100
While many of these tent models are under $100 based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, some may go above our target price point by a few bucks depending on the seller or distributor. However, note that most, if not all, of the tents in this list are usually offered on discounts which put them way below a hundred bucks.
Ten Best Backpacking Tents Under $100
The ten backpacking tents in this list are well-recommended by novice backpackers. As such, these are great options to start while you are still beginning your backpacking journey.
Let’s have a more detailed look at what these tents can offer.
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx is a spacious tent that is perfect for two people. Its aluminum poles provide the necessary durability. It also incorporates more mesh compared to most of the options on this list. This provides better ventilation, especially during the summer months.
We like how easy it is to assemble and disassemble. It comes with clips that fit perfectly with the two poles. This makes the set-up quite intuitive, especially for beginners. However, we are a bit disappointed that the package does not come with assembly instruction. As such, it can be intimidating to complete beginners.
The tent includes two large doors for easy entry and exit. Additionally, the included weatherproof vestibules with fly buckles will protect your gear during rainy conditions. They can also serve as an extra living space when the weather is good.
ALPS makes use of #8 zippers that are extra-strong and extra-large to withstand even the most inexperienced users. Along with the factory sealed fly and floors, the tent provides comfort and protection even during heavy rainfall.
Kelty Salida 2 is another great budget tent that comes with great features. It also comes in one-person and four-person variants. While it does not come with a footprint, the tent includes a gear loft, which usually costs extra in more expensive tents.
The semi-free standing tent is quite easy to pitch. Simply expand the collapsible aluminum poles and connect them crosswise to the hooks on the inner tent. Then, drape the rain-fly over the entire thing, and you are almost done. You just need to stake out the vestibule for extra storage.
The interior of the tent is spacious enough for two people. You can set-up a 6-foot sleeping bag comfortably without touching the opposite walls. It also comes with gear loops which are convenient if you want to dry your clothing and other stuff.
Coleman is a popular brand among backpacking enthusiasts. It is not surprising that they also produce the best backpacking tent under $100. They have a reputation for creating affordable yet functional tents, and Coleman Hooligan is one of those.
The 2-person tent comes with great weather protection features. It incorporates the patented WeatherTec system, which ensures that the whole structure is highly water-resistant. Additionally, its inverted seams prevent water from seeping inside the tent.
Aside from being weatherproof, the Coleman Hooligan integrates smart design and construction to withstand strong winds. The redesigned poles and guy-out triangles can hold out during windy days. The general shape of the tent was also developed to direct the wind flow away.
The tent also comes with stakes and various mounting equipment. While this is great for the overall tent set-up, this makes the tent a bit heavy. It weighs about 8 to 12 pounds, which is a bit hefty. However, it does come with a carrying bag so you can easily stash the entire tent in your backpack.
The Slumberjack Trail is a series of tents that are designed to provide protection at affordable price points. Aside from the 2-person model, you can also buy 3, 4, and 6 person variants. These backpacking tents were developed for casual hikers and backpackers.
It is made of 75D Polyester 1200mm with taped seams, which ensures durability and strength. The ridge pole configuration provides about 41 inches at peak height. With that much headspace, the interior feels roomy and even big enough for some people to stand in.
The integrated mesh panels on the walls allow maximum airflow, especially during warm days. Of course, you are still protected by the full coverage rain-fly during rainy seasons. Additionally, the taped seams help protect you from moisture and dirt from outside.
We like the extra storage pockets which will keep your things organized. It also comes with plenty of hooks along the roof where you can hang extra gear. The addition of noiseless zippers is a great touch.
The Luxe Tempo Enhanced 2-Person Tent can be considered the best backpacking tent under $100. It is a four-season, 2-person tent which is difficult to find at this price range. The versatile tent is perfect for year-round backpacking trips.
The freestanding tent is easy to set up with its fixed pole system. The continuous pole is joined by a shock cord, which makes pitching intuitive even for complete beginners. You can also transfer it to another area in your campsite easily when necessary.
It also includes two doors that are necessary for a 2-person tent for easy entrance and exit. The included vestibules on both sides are also great storage spaces, especially if you are towing a few. We like how you can open the entire side of the tent. This can serve as a canopy if you want to extend the livable space, especially when the weather is nice.
The interior is made of coated 210T ripstop polyester, which is breathable and comfortable. If you need protection, especially at night, you can use the 210T ripstop coated polyester 3000mm, which is extremely waterproof. It can even withstand horizontal rain!
The floor of the Luxe Tempo is also made from the same polyester material with thicker density at 5000 mm. This keeps any unwanted water from the ground. It is also great in preventing tears from rough or rocky flooring.
The GEERTOP 2-Person Backpacking Tent is another affordable four season tent. It is extremely sturdy that it can be used to camp in the snow. It weighs around 6 pounds (around 2.7 kg), which is a bit heavy but still manageable.
The fairly roomy interior is about 83 inches by 82 inches (2.10 m by 2.08 m). It has a headroom of around 45 inches (1.14 m), which makes it a livable tent with 2 people inside. You can even squeeze in a third person if needed, but it will be a tight fit.
The backpacking tent is made of 210T breathable polyester, which is both strong and durable. To keep the air flowing, the interior walls incorporate high-density fine nylon mesh. Along with the taped seams, it keeps the warm air, which is perfect if you are going to a colder location.
You can also extend the livable and storage space using the integrated vestibules on both sides. A ventilation latch with velcro gives you the option to let more air in during warmer seasons.
We were a bit cautious with the zipper as it feels stringy. While it seems sturdy enough, we feel that you need to be extra careful with it, especially when you use the tent regularly.
Eureka Tetragon is a series of affordable tents which are available in 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10 person options. The three-season tent is freestanding, which makes it easy to move around the camp. The structure is made of a fiberglass frame that maximizes the dome shape of better livability. The included clips and ring-pin system makes it easy to set up even for beginners.
The large hooded main door allows easy access in and out of the tent while protecting the interior from the sun and rain. It also incorporates no-see-um mesh side panels and roof for better airflow while maintaining some level of privacy. It is perfect for sleeping under the stars during warm weather.
The 75D polyester with 800mm coatings ensures that the tent is waterproof and weatherproof. The included rain-fly ensures that you are dry during the wet season. Combined with the fully seam-taped construction and bathtub floor, there is no danger of water leaking into your tent.
The Eureka Tetragon HD 2 also comes with a gear loft, which is difficult to find in a tent under $100. It even comes with extra storage pockets so you can store your gear and other stuff away from the interior floor.
Hyke & Byke is a reputable company known for its high-quality outdoor tools and gears. The Zion Backing Packing Tent is arguably a competitor for the best tent under $100. It is available in a 1-person or 2-person option. The entire tent is durable and lightweight, which makes it easy to bring on any camping trip.
The tent structure includes one pole with clip-pole attachments, which makes the set-up easy and uncomplicated. The included 12 7000 Series aluminum alloy stakes ensure that the tent is sturdy without adding weight to your pack.
We like the included footprint and detachable mesh gear loft in the tent package. These features often cost extra, even on high-end tents. That means you do not have to spend extra just to protect the floor material of your tent.
Aside from the spacious living area, it includes two vestibules where you can store your gear. They can also serve as an extra living space when the weather is nice. The tent’s almost-vertical walls maximize the interior space.
Eureka! reappears in our list with their great solo tent option. The 1 person tent is a great entry-level option if you are looking for personal camping gear. It is perfect for solitary trips as it only weighs about 3 lbs (about 1.4 kg), so you will barely feel it in your backpack.
The tent is made of a waterproof floor and an outer rain-fly. Unlike most tents, the inner and outer walls are attached, which means you can set it up quickly. You can also pitch the tent even when it is raining as there are no risks of soaking the interior of the tent, unlike most double-walled options.
The manufacturer did not forget ventilation either. Once pitched, you can roll up the rain-fly to expose the mesh inner walls. While you cannot really sit-up inside the tent, this makes sleeping during warm weather much more comfortable without exposing yourself to bugs and the ground.
The fiberglass poles are sturdy enough for occasional and casual use. It also includes 12 steel shepherds hook stakes, which helps with the stability of the tent. Overall, it is a great sleeping tent for novice outdoor adventurers.
While it is tough to find the best backpacking tent under $100 that can fit 3 people, we were lucky to find the Coleman Sundome 3-Person Dome Tent. It actually fits a queen-sized airbed just right, which adds extra comfort during your camping trip.
The tent boasts a roomy headspace at 52 inches (1.32 m), which is above average for most 3-person tents. The floor area is around 7 feet by 5 feet (2.1 by 1.5 m), which can accommodate even your tall friends. It can be a bit snug for three adults, but it is perfect for a couple with a child or a large dog.
We like how beginner-friendly the set-up of the tent is, with the instructions sewn right into the tent bag. It does recommend two people to pitch the tent, but it is easy enough that it can be done by one. The entire assembly just involves pushing the two fiberglass poles through the sleeves. Then, attach the peg rings, and you are ready to secure it with stakes.
It is considered a three-season tent as it can withstand fairly rough storms and winds. It also repels dew and moisture. The central roof mesh is great during warm seasons while the rain-fly is perfect in case it rains.
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent Under $100
Going shopping for a budget tent, especially those under $100, is slightly complicated compared to those on higher price points. However, it does not mean that you have to settle for a low-quality tent. While we have listed the best backpacking tent under $100 above, you may still want to browse in your local outdoor specialty store.
Here are a few things to note when choosing your first tent.
Type of Outdoor Activities
Start with your planned outdoor activities. Are you going on a solo trip? What’s the weather like in the camping grounds? How long are you planning to travel?
These are just some of the questions that you should answer before even setting foot in the store. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, budget backpacking tents are usually meant for novice campers. A sub-$100 tent is great to explore the ins and outs of the outdoor lifestyle.
You can identify which features you feel are necessary for your future travels. You can also practice setting up the then on your own without the fear of ruining an expensive one. Then, if you are planning to go on backpacking trips regularly, you will have a better guide in choosing a more expensive tent based on your experience.
Backpacking tents in this price range are also suitable if you are an occasional camper. If you only need a tent once a year during your summer trips with your friends, then it is not economical to spend a lot of money on something that you will barely use.
While most tents under this price point won’t last through fairly heavy rain, some of the tents in this list can handle any weather conditions. Just like any gear, proper maintenance and storage will extend the lifetime of a tent even if it is not the most expensive out there.
Tent capacity means the number of people that it can hold. Options under $100 are usually 1 person or 2-person tents. There are 3-person tents that you might get at this price point as well.
If you are a solo hiker, then a solo backpacking tent is a great option. It will serve its purpose well as a sleeper tent if you are planning to bet most of the time outdoors. You can also protect your gear from dirt and animals by storing it inside while you are out and about.
You can also choose a 2-person (or 3-person) tent if you want a bigger space. Naturally, it will provide more comfort, especially if you are traveling with someone. However, make sure that you consider its weight before purchasing one.
Livability and Comfort
The best backpacking tents are those that can provide the utmost comfort and livability during your trips. It is not unreasonable to look for robust tent functionalities at this price point. While you won’t have the bells and whistles that more expensive tents have, your budget tent should have the following features:
While it is possible to guess a tent’s size through its capacity, it is still important to determine its actual interior volume before purchasing. Capacity is relative to your size and the manufacturer’s definition of capacity. For example, a 2-person tent may be able to fit you and your friend but not comfortably.
The tent’s interior living space will also dictate whether you can sit, stand, or lie down. It will also tell you how much gear you can fit inside. If you are only planning to sleep in a tent, then you won’t need a large interior. However, if you are planning to use it as a shelter, then consider a tent with more headroom and bigger floor space.
Vestibules and Other Gear Storage
If you are not keen on sharing the floor space with your gear, then consider a tent with a decent vestibule. Some tents may even come with two, which is great if you are sharing a tent with someone. That means you can each have an area for your gears.
Additionally, some tents under $100 now include gear lofts and extra storage pockets, which cost extra in more expensive options. However, remember that these features can add a bit of weight to the tent.
Moisture can easily build up inside the tent, which will affect your comfort, especially when sleeping. Choose tents with mesh walls as these are great, especially during the summer season. It will allow better airflow while protecting you from nature.
Additionally, be on the lookout for rain flies with vents. This will minimize the interior condensation, especially when it is raining outside.
Your planned outdoor activities will determine the seasonality of the tent. It will be challenging to find a four-season tent under $100. However, you can find decent three-season and two-season tents at this price point.
Unless you are specifically planning on camping during winter, a robust three-season winter is more than enough. This type of tent can also last through occasional winds and rains.
An ideal tent balances weight and the features mentioned above. Generally, a lightweight tent should be between 2.5 pounds to 3 pounds per person. Most solo tents and small 2-person tents fit well under this weight range.
If you are backpacking with your friends, you can split the tent pack with others. Divide the rain-fly, poles, and tent to easily manage the weight. A tent pack heavier than 3 pounds is still reasonable for shorter hiking trips.
How do you clean a tent?
Tents under $100 are constructed with lighter materials, which means you have to be careful when cleaning it. Set it up and with it down with lukewarm water and mild soap solution. You can also use liquid hand soap.
Avoid using detergents as it can damage the outer layer of the tent. Also, do not clean the tent in a washing machine or dryer as it can rip the fabric, and it seams.
How do you store a backpacking tent?
Clean and dry your tent before storing it in a cool, dry place. The stuff sack that comes with your tent is not good for long term storage. Use a mesh bag or a pillowcase to allow the tent to breathe.
You can also partially assemble the poles to extend the life of the shock cord. If you do not have the space for this, collapse the poles from the middle. Then, work your way towards the end. It will distribute tension and minimize damage.
How do you dry a tent?
Air-dry your tent after every trip. You can set it up indoors after cleaning and allow the fabric to breathe. You can also dry it under a shaded spot outside. If you do not have space, hang it until it dries.
How do you care for your tent during camping?
Always choose a flat and clean spot to set up your tent at the campsite. Remove stones, twigs, and other debris that could puncture the tent floor. If you are camping for a few days, choose a well-shaded spot as well.
Keep all shoes, boots, and other dirty gear outside the tent. You can use the vestibule to store these. Additionally, take it easy on the zipper. Use two hands if it does not glide smoothly.
As you discover your love for everything outdoors, you can begin considering more expensive options later on. The best backpacking tent under $100 should have all the core features that you need for a typical outdoor adventure.
These functionalities will allow you to practice setting up a tent without the risk of ruining an expensive tent. You can also identify your desired characteristics based on your usual activities.
Do you want a lightweight tent for your solo trips? Eureka! Solitaire Tent is a great option. Do you need a roomy tent for summer camping with your friends? You can buy the Coleman Sundome 3-Person Dome Tent. Or do you want a versatile tent for your year-round adventures? Then, consider Luxe Tempo Enhanced 2-Person Tent.
While tents on this list have their own strengths and weaknesses, GEERTOP 2-Person Backpacking Tent comes highly recommended. It features great functionalities that can compete with pricier models. These tents are great for both novice backpackers or adventurers who want an inexpensive tent for occasional use.