Whether you like to go backpacking a few times a year or are frequently setting out on lengthy trail excursions, having a quality backpacking tent in your gear arsenal is a must. The trouble is, with so many tent options to pick from (and some at very steep costs), how do you know which will serve you best out on the trail?
We’re so glad you asked.
Finding a backpacking tent that serves your needs and lasts you for many miles ahead doesn’t need to burst your wallet. Keep reading for the top 5 options for the best backpacking tents under $100, including our detailed guide to choosing the right tent for you.
The top 5 backpacking tents under $100 we recommend for 2021:
Not all tent designs are created equal. Check out the different types of backpacking tent designs you can pick from when selecting the best backpacking tent under 100.
Freestanding backpacking tents function exactly how their name indicates—they stand up completely on their own without requiring extra bells and whistles to achieve the right volume. Freestanding tents are typically used for regular backpacking and camping and will serve you well whether you are backpacking solo or with a couple of friends.
If you select a more durable, weatherproof option, a freestanding tent is also a good choice for cold weather camping in rough conditions.
Semi-freestanding tents come with poles for setup, but you also have to use guy points or stakes to pitch them to optimal volume. If you want to pick the best backpacking tent under 100 in a semi-freestanding style, this variety is a quality choice for extra stability and comfort.
Semi-freestanding tents are also pretty lightweight to carry in your gear because they don’t have as many poles as other styles.
Double-wall tents have three components, namely, an inside tent featuring a waterproof floor space and a non-waterproof roof, a rain fly (or outer tent with waterproof features), and poles for setup. Double-wall tents are designed to be very user-friendly and easy to set up while safeguarding you from harsh weather conditions and keeping you comfortable at the same time.
That said, for all their impressive features, double-wall tents have the heaviest design. Freestanding tents, semi-freestanding tents, and tunnel tents are all variations of the double-wall design.
Finally, tunnel tents feature a semi-freestanding design with a distinctive pole setup. Tunnel tents sport one or more poles in a hoop shape and depend completely on guylines to remain upright.
Tunnel tents offer a quality ratio of space to weight, providing backpackers strength and fantastic comfort while still being pretty light.
Here’s how to pick the best backpacking tents under $100.
There are three primary types of tent doors: double side doors, singe side doors, and front-end doors. Double side doors offer a tent entrance on each side, giving campers easy access and flexible usage options. If you are camping with a group or even one other person, the double-sided door design could come in really handy.
The best backpacking tent under 100 with a front-end door design gives multi-person access as well, but space is tighter, and it will be a little more awkward for multiple people to enter at once. If you are backpacking solo or don’t mind the tighter spice, tents with single side doors could suffice.
You’ll need to consider the person capacity of the tent you want when hunting for the best backpacking tent under $100. The best backpacking tent under $100 comes in varying occupant capacities, ranging from one to four-person tents. Two-person tents are the most popular choice for most backpackers, while three-person tents typically add another 20 inches more to allow for the extra camper.
Your ideal tent person capacity is obviously going to depend on how many people you typically backpack with, but it also partly involves your personal preference. For instance, if you typically camp with just one other person, but would like some additional floor space and headroom, you might opt for a three-person model instead of a two-person. If you have lots of gear or bring your pet along on the trail, having that extra space could be a lifesaver too.
Consider the material of the product when hunting for the best backpacking tent under $100. Backpacking tents are designed from either coated polyester, Cuben fiber, or coated nylon. Nylon is the strongest material available and is much more resistant to wear and tear than a choice like polyester. However, both materials require an additional coat in order to become fully waterproof.
Cuben fiber is the gold standard in terms of backpacking tent materials, but it does come with a steeper price. With that said, Cuben fiber is absolutely the most lightweight, durable, and waterproof option available. It is very easy to fix Cuben fiber fabric if it starts to show signs of wear, while the material is light enough that it won’t weigh down your gear.
Pay close attention to the fabric denier of the best backpacking tent under 100. A fabric’s denier tells you the ratio of its weight to square area. For instance, very lightweight tent fabrics feature 10-denier specifications with 40 to 70-denier tent floors.
The most cost-effective best backpacking tent under $100 is going to be designed with Polyurethane coating. The PU coating offers waterproofing while still being durable enough to hold up in damp and cold environments. However, PU coating is vulnerable to chemical deterioration, which removes the waterproofing components and wears out the tent.
The best backpacking tent under $100 sports silicone elastomer, which not only repels water like a dream but is flexible and resistant to harmful UV rays and harsh temperatures. It is lighter than PU coating, but also highly durable and sturdier.
Ultimately, consider your usage needs, camper capacity, and backpacking frequency. If you only go on short camping trips every so often, you probably won’t need as durable a choice as you would if you frequently camp in all kinds of weather conditions.
Check out the best backpacking tent under $100 choices for your next outdoor adventure.
Our first pick for the best backpacking tent under $100 is the Winterial Single Person Personal Bivy Tent. We like that the tent is designed for 3-season camping while being lightweight and portable at just 3 pounds and 3 ounces when packed. The tent is definitely one of the most cost-effective options on our list and is a great choice for solo backpackers who like to trek year round.
The tent features a double-wall design, so you will have plenty of insulation and coverage from weather elements like wind and rain. We were very impressed by how simple it is to set up this backpacking tent, as it sports a two-hoop design with bivvies for user-friendly ease.
The roof sports ventilated mesh while the body of the tent features a zippered door to make getting in and out of the tent a breeze. The tent comes with 3 rope bundles and 14 stakes to secure it in place in your chosen camping location.
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If you’re going to be backpacking in warm weather or beach conditions, the Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent might be just what you’ve been looking for. The backpacking tent under $100 sports a very portable, lightweight design to shield you from the elements like rain and wind, while providing UPF 50+ protection from the sun.
We were glad to see that the tent features a breathable polyester design that repels water and folds down to a compact size of just 40 x 5 x 5 inches. When set up, this best backpacking tent under $100 features 87 x 47 x 49 dimensions, offering plenty of floor space, head space, and inner volume.
The frame sports integrated fiberglass components and a PE floor with water-resistant properties to keep you comfortable and dry. We also liked the featured carrying case, stakes, and inside pockets to secure your smaller personal belongings.
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Our next choice for the best backpacking tent under $100 is the Argus Le Automatic Instant Tent for Camping, featuring a waterproof design that holds a 2 to 3 person capacity. For multi-person camping in a range of camping conditions, it’s definitely hard to outdo the Argus Le Automatic Instant Tent.
The first thing we noticed was the instant tent design, which means that you can pop the poles in and out of place for super easy setup. The tent poles are manufactured from durable 8.55mm fiberglass that is elastic and corrosion resistant. We also liked the tent’s taped seams and 210-denier floor fabric.
The tent’s exterior is breathable with dual layers, waterproofing, and UV400 protection. When set up, the tent is a roomy 90.5 x 78.7 x 59 inches, making it an ideal contender for trekking with family or friends.
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We picked the Coleman Sundome 4 Person Tent as the best backpacking tent under 100 for its four-person capacity and excellent interior space. The tent holds up well in a range of weather conditions, including wind and rain. The dome design offers campers way more inside volume when in use while setting up the tent takes just 10 minutes in total.
The tent features integrated WeatherTec, with inverted seams and welded floors to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable if unexpected showers or blustery weather hit. We were also pleased to see that the Coleman Sundome 4 Person Tent sports waterproofed seams and comes with a bottle of seam sealer to reapply to the tent as needed.
The tent has quality ventilation, so you won’t feel all hot and stuffy if you are camping in warmer weather conditions. The 9 x 7 floor of the tent features polyethylene fabric with 1000-denier specifications and welding. The tent includes an electrical access port, which is a great bonus feature for anyone looking to stay connected on the go.
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Our final pick for the best backpacking tent under $100 is the Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent, holding up to 3 people and sporting a 3-pole design with a user-friendly, removable fly for easy access. One feature we really liked was the fiberglass frame with shock cording that not only makes setup a breeze but ensures durability and longevity of use for campers.
We liked that the tent features 2 mesh windows so you can gaze outside as you fall asleep, with a D-shaped front door for breathability and ventilation if you’re camping in summer weather. The tent sports 8.5 x 4 x 8-foot measurements and weighs in at a moderate 8 pounds. We loved the hanging gear pocket and gear loft so you can store your gear with ease, along with a vestibule that offers extra storage space and protection from weather conditions.
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While we liked each of the best backpacking tents under $100 options on our list for a variety of campers, the pick we felt offered the most versatility which remains our top selection is the Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent. We really liked the 3-pole design and the removable tent fly so people can easily go in and out of the tent without issue.
The excellent fiberglass frame with shock cording was a really key feature for us, as it ensures quality and durability for a range of backpacker needs. We also loved the 2 mesh windows for ventilation and views, plus the D-shaped front door for easy entry and exit.
With tons of storage space and pockets, fantastic breathability, and quality weather protection from elements including wind and rain, the Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent is our top pick for the best backpacking tent under $100.