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10 Best Budget Backpacking Tents under $250 (2024)

10 Best Budget backpacking tents under 250 in 2024

Backpacking tents are getting increasingly expensive, especially ultralight tents made with specialty fabrics. But take heart. Plenty of good values and budget tents are still available if you know what to look for. Here are our recommended picks for the top 10 best budget backpacking tents for $250 or less. These tents are lightweight enough to be used for backpacking or camping and provide a great bang for the buck.

Make / Model / PeopleWeightDesignPrice
REI Trailmade 24 lbs 4 ozFreestanding$199
Kelty Late Start 24 lbsFreestanding$160
Marmot Tungsten 2P4 lbs 15.7 ozFreestanding$249
REI Trail Hut 24 lbs 14 ozFreestanding$229
Big Agnes C-Bar-23 lbs 9 ozFreestanding$250
Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Outfitter3 lbs 3 ozTrekking Poles$210
3FUL Lanshan 22 lbs 7 ozTrekking Pole$200
Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout2 lbs 8 ozTrekking Pole$160
Dan Durston X-Mid 11 lb 12 ozTrekking Pole$234
Featherstone Backbone 2P2 lbs 11.5 ozTrekking Pole$200

1. REI Trailmade 2 Tent w/Footprint

REI Trailmade 2 Tent w/Footprint
The REI Trailmade 2 Tent is a two-person freestanding tent with two doors so you can get up at night without disturbing your partner. It has an X-pole configuration makes this tent easy to set up and increases the vertical space at the ends, with a symmetrical rectangular floor plan so you can face each other inside. The rainfly doors roll up over the roof for a clear view of the sky while numerous internal pockets and gear loops help organize your essentials. The Trailmade 2 is made with polyester which resists sagging when it gets wet, so you can have a taut pitch whatever the weather. The tent has a minimum trail weight of 4 lbs 4 oz and a footprint is also included.

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2. Kelty Late Start 2 Tent

Kelty Late Start 2
The Kelty Late Start 2 is a 2 person, freestanding tent with one front door and vestibule. It has a trail weight of 4 lbs, and comes with two pre-bent aluminum poles which slot into external sleeves in the corner, making it easy to set up and providing a strong structure. The freestanding design means you can pitch the tent and move it around to find the best site. Except for the bathtub floor, the walls and ceiling of the inner tent are all mesh, providing excellent ventilation. The Late Start 2 is less expensive than comparable 2-person dome tents because it only has one front door and a vestibule, making it slightly more difficult for occupants to enter and exit without disturbing the other.

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3. Marmot Tungsten 2P Tent

Marmot Tungsten 2P Tent
The Marmot Tungsten 2P is a freestanding double-wall one-person tent made with low-stretch polyester that helps reduce internal condensation transfer when it gets wet. The tent includes a footprint and has a fully seam-taped rainfly and floor that offer rain protection when the deluge hits. An internal lampshade pocket holds your headlamp to provide ambient light with interior pockets for small gear organization. A shorter folded pole length makes it easy to pack this tent up for backpacking, bikepacking, kayaking, or all three. The Tungsten 2P has a trail weight of 4 lbs 15.7 oz.

Shop at REIShop at Campsaver

4. REI Trail Hut 2 Tent

REI Trail Hut 2

The REI Trail Hut 2 has a freestanding dome architecture with equal-length poles and pole clips that are easy to set up. Two large D-shaped doors and large vestibules provide ease of access and covered storage. The rain fly doors roll up over the roof for a clear sky view, plus improved venting and reduced condensation. Integrated door venting reduces weight and bulk, while internal pockets and gear loops are provided organizing essentials. With a trail weight of 4 lbs 14 oz, the Trail Hut is a great backpacking option for couples.

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5. Big Agnes C-Bar 2 Tent

Big Agnes C-Bar 2 Tent
The Big Agnes C-Bar Two Person Tent is a surprisingly affordable backpacking tent with a trail weight of 3 lbs 9 oz. Fully featured, this double-wall tent is easy to set up and made with durable materials. It has an oversized ceiling pocket which is great for gear stashing and a large front vestibule. If you’re looking for a tent that you can set up quickly in the dark or durable enough to let your kids borrow for a scouting trip, the C-Bar 2 is a great choice. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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6. Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Outfitter

 

Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Outfitter tent
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Outfitter is a spacious single-wall tent for two people with two doors and two vestibules. While it is a trekking pole tent, it comes with two curved roof supports that create a 45″ high vaulted ceiling that provides extra headroom. Weighing 57 oz, the tent is made with very durable polyester fabric that can easily withstand a dog’s claws if you like to bring Fido along on your trips. Ventilation is excellent when the doors are left open and at 54″ in width, the tent can easily hold two 25″ wide sleeping pads.

Shop at Six Moons

7. 3FUL Lanshan 2

Lanshan 2
The 3FUL LanShan 2 Tent is a two-person trekking pole tent that’s lightweight, inexpensive, and reasonably well made. It has a mesh inner tent with a bathtub floor and an external rainfly, with two separate doors and spacious vestibules. The tent is factory seam-taped, although you’ll want to do some touch-ups with seam sealer if you plan on camping in rain. Weighing 2 lbs 7 oz, the Lanshan 2 is made with Sil/PU coated ripstop nylon. While this tent is sold by many offshore resellers, we recommend you purchase it on Amazon, where there’s purchaser protection in terms of shipping delays and manufacturer warranties. Read the SectionHiker review.

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8. Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout

Six Moon Design Skyscape Scout
The Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout is an inexpensive 40-ounce, one-person, trekking pole-supported tent. Measuring 100″ x 45″, it has a generous floorplan capable of housing the tallest backpackers. It requires two poles to set up, which are slightly offset from the center of the tent providing extra headroom when lying down allowing the Skyscape to be extremely rigid when guyed out, creating a structure capable of riding out the worst storms. The Skyscape is a Hybrid Double Wall tent: over 80% of the canopy is separated from you by a mesh wall while allowing the vestibules to roll back. The tent must be seam-sealed before use. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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9. Dan Durston X-Mid 1

X-Mid-1 UL Tent

The Dan Durston X-Mid 1P is a one-person 1 lb 12 oz double-wall tent that is exceptionally easy to set up. It has two doors and requires two trekking poles to pitch. All of the seams are taped and the inner tent is optional so you can just use the rainfly if desired. The X-mid can be set up fly-first in the rain to keep the inner tent dry and has plenty of interior gear storage space. This mid-style tent is quite stormworthy and includes extra guy out points for extreme conditions. Read the SectionHiker review. 

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10. Featherstone Backbone 2P

Featherstone Backbone 2P
The Featherstone Backbone 2P is an affordable ultralight single-wall tent for two people that requires two trekking poles to set up. Weighing 2 lbs 11.5 oz, it’s relatively inexpensive but has many features found on much more expensive ultralight tents, including peak vents, corner struts, line loc tensioners, TPU waterproof door zippers, and dual vestibule hooks. It’s made with PU-coated silnylon, so it’s seam-taped and comes complete with 15 tent stakes. Rather than having symmetric sides, the pole positioning ratio is offset 40/60 to provide more overhead room at the head end for sitting up and moving around. Struts, inserted at the foot end corners further increase the room above your feet without requiring a larger footprint so that the tent can fit into smaller tent sites. Read the SectionHiker review. 

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Tent Selection Criteria

Here are the most important variables to consider when buying a budget backpacking or camping tent.

WEIGHT/TRAIL WEIGHT

Budget tents are almost always heavier than ultralight tents because they’re made with heavier, more durable fabrics. The total weight of a tent usually measures the tent and all of its packaging, while the trail weight is the weight of its poles, inner tent, outer rain fly, minus any tent stakes. Lightweight budget tents are usually in the neighborhood of 4 to 5 pounds, which isn’t too bad when split between two people.

TENT POLES

Tent poles are made using fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the most durable of the three, while carbon fiber is normally only used in very high-end tents where the focus is on lightweight. Fiberglass poles are the least durable tent poles and break frequently.  So much so, that we recommend avoiding any tent with fiberglass poles. All the ones above have aluminum poles or require trekking poles, which can be aluminum or carbon fiber, it doesn’t really matter.

DURABILITY

The floor of a tent is the part of a tent most likely to be punctured or torn as a result of ground abrasion. While using a footprint on floors that are 20 denier thick or less is always recommended, it’s far less necessary on 30 denier or higher floors, except on highly abrasive or rough terrain.

DOORS

Tents with two side doors are often preferable when purchasing a tent for two because it means each occupant can get in and out without disturbing the other.

INTERIOR STORAGE

Interior pockets and storage organization are a plus in a multi-person tent. Look for internal pockets and gear loops to hang gear from the ceiling. A gear loft is an added bonus. Vestibule space is always a plus as well, especially if there are multiple doors so that gear storage does not block entry and exit.

VENTILATION

All tents experience tent condensation, but good tent site selection and ventilation are the best ways to avoid it. Look for tents that have lots of mesh netting to facilitate airflow, top vents to release moist air, and door tie-backs to roll up tent doors and keep them open at night.

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6 comments

  1. Wait…there are prices listed on this l10 best list!

    Actually most of the sites that list prices don’t allow comments or never respond to them. Integrity matters to me too! Which is why I come to sectionhiker and trust Philip so much

    • Oh yeah – this being a budget tent post – I thought it important to list them (and check that they were still under $250). You’d be amazed how much gear prices went up in the past year.

  2. Might be worth looking at the Naturehike tent collection, just understand that they offer their tent models in a variety of fabrics and it takes a bit of effort to figure out what you might want. Their Mongar tent is suspiciously similar to a number of tents with more familiar brand names.

    Paria’s Zion (also suspiciously similar to the Mongar) is worth looking at. The only issue with these two (the Mongar and Zion) is that the single ridge pole may not be the best pole design for surviving weather events.

    The Alps Zephyr is also worth a look, but it’s on the heavy side. Better pole design.

    I have a Naturehike tent, and it’s . . . serviceable, I guess. It’s not great, but it’s not awful either. I’m not sure how well the plastic clips that attack the tent body to the poles will hold up over time. It’s better than Walmart’s Ozark Trail tents, but not as nice as REI’s nicer tents.

  3. Thanks Phil! I just clicked the C-Bar link and that site has it marked down to $150 FYI

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