Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or are preparing to venture out on your first outdoor trek, it’s essential to find the best backpacking tent for your camping needs to keep you comfortable and dry out on the road. The problem is, there are so many tent products available, many of which aren’t too kind on the wallet.
The good news is, finding a backpacking tent that meets your camping needs doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep reading to discover our top 5 picks for the best backpacking tent under $200, plus the ultimate guide to selecting a backpacking tent.
Here’s what you need to know to select the best backpacking tent under 200.
There are several different types of tents available, so it’s important to know what your options are in order to select the right one for you. The first type of tent is a summer/screen tent. These tents are designed for summer activities to give the camper plenty of ventilation and protection from insects in balmy weather.
The best summer/screen tents sport sturdy frames and rain flies to offer complete coverage in the event you run into summer showers. Summer/screen tents also sport large mesh areas, allowing you to pull back the fly and let fresh air flow inside the interior.
The second type of tent is a three-season tent, which is the variety that many backpackers who camp year-round rely on. Three-season tents are designed to keep you comfortable on spring, summer, and fall camping trips, with frames made to hold up against blustery gales and ventilated walls. If you go camping frequently and want to find the best backpacking tent under $200 that will serve you well for most of the year, a three-season tent is a solid pick.
Convertible tents are designed for a wide variety of weather conditions, with a frame sporting a rainfly, vestibule, and a pole. You can bulk up a convertible tent for rough weather conditions or lighten the frame for summer camping adventures.
The walls of convertible tents frequently include mesh windows with nylon paneling for a bonus view that you can zip if need be for protection from weather elements. The only real downside with convertible tents is that they are much heavier and will bulk down your pack significantly more.
For tough winter adventures, a mountaineering/winter tent is the ideal pick. Mountaineering tents are designed with very durable materials, poles, and guy out loops to hold up against harsh weather elements. Most mountaineering/winter tents have low ceilings with boulder-like designs and massive vestibules to store your gear and other belongings.
For ultra-lightweight backpackers, tarps are a simple sheet of polyester or nylon that you can secure to a boulder, tree, roots, trekking poles, etc. Tarps can definitely protect you against some harsh weather elements, but it’s essential to tie them right or you could find yourself without sufficient shelter.
Different tents sport different shapes, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A-frame tents are very lightweight, basic options with sloping walls. The sloping walls make the tent light to carry but also mean that you’ll have less head and elbow space. A-frames are also not sturdy enough for very high winds and rough weather, so you’ll need to use them in calmer weather conditions.
Modified A-frame tents are a step up from the basic A-frame, featuring a ridgeline pole, curved walls, and a center hoop pole that offers more interior space and sturdiness all around. Dome tents come in a wide range of specs, but usually sport arched ceilings, quality inside space, and hold up well against high winds.
Hoop/tunnel tents are not freestanding, so you will need plenty of stakes to keep them in place and attain the right shape. However, they are very weather resistant and aren’t too heavy, making them a good choice for lighter backpacking.
Pyramid/teepee tents are a rainfly with a vertical center pole. The lack of a floor makes them a better choice for benign weather rather than damp, blustery conditions. Finally, a wedge tent features a shape that is higher at the end of the head and lower at the foot, with a lightweight design and aerodynamic configurations. You just won't have as much headspace or elbow room with wedge tents.
You always want to look for sufficient head space when choosing the best backpacking tent under 200. The dimensions need to be sufficient to give you room to stretch out and move around, particularly in the case of a multi-person tent where you’re going to have several individuals moving about.
Headroom is another key feature to be aware of. Headroom is defined by the slope of the tent wall. Consider the number of people you’ll be backpacking with and any weather conditions you anticipate running into. Very lightweight tent options will feel better in your pack, but will usually have lower ceilings or slopes that make them a better pick for sleeping rather than sitting up.
You’ll also want to consider the shape of the best tents under 200. You’ll want a vestibule that offers plenty of space for all your gear, but tents with high roofs also have better storage options and give you room to cook in harsh weather conditions.
Decide whether you want a freestanding tent that you can set up without stakes, or a non-freestanding tent. Non-freestanding tents are definitely lighter than freestanding ones, but their use of stakes make them a bit more difficult to use in conditions like snow or sand.
Also, consider whether you want a one or two-door tent. One door tents are more lightweight, but the two-door design makes for increased functionality and livability.
Do you want a single-wall tent or a double-wall tent? Double-walls sport an inside canopy for sleeping and a rainfly to keep you dry. They are also more cost effective and have ample ventilation. Single-wall tents offer a single layer of waterproof material, which means they are really simple to set up and very lightweight. However, they tend to gather condensation quickly, so ventilation is a key feature to look for with single-wall tents.
Browse our top 5 choices for the best backpacking tent under 200, then keep reading to discover our top pick from the group. Let’s go!
Our first pick for the best backpacking tent under $200 is a 2-person tent that is ideal for 3-season use, making it a fantastic choice for all your spring, summer, and fall camping trips. We like how compact the design of this tent is, with a hard liner that you can remove if need be. The inside is pretty roomy, offering 35 square feet of space that is more than enough for 2 adults and all their gear.
We were happy to see that the tent sports dual vestibules to secure your belongings, equipped with 17 feet of space and integrated mesh pockets to organize all your essentials. We were also very pleased with the ventilation of the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season tent, as it sports a tent fly for enhanced airflow. The tent features a two-door design to make it easy for both campers to enter and exit as they desire.
The Kelty Salida tent made it to our best backpacking tent under $200 list for its impressive storage space and lightweight configurations. We love that the frame is light and easy to carry, so you won’t have any issue storing it in your gear for either lengthy or short backpacking and camping trips. We really liked the ventilation features this tent has to offer, with mesh fabric that increases airflow while keeping pesky bugs out of your way.
The 2-person tent is surprisingly compact for the amount of storage space it has to offer, with a 10 square foot vestibule to secure your equipment, gear, and other possessions while on the road. One feature that really drew us to this tent was its easy setup.
The tent features 2 folding poles for a simple, freestanding design that you can set up or breakdown with total ease. You’ll have 30.5 square feet of floor space with this tent, not counting the vestibule area. The tent itself is designed from durable nylon that is light and cozy, while still being sturdy enough to hold up against harsh winds.
The next best backpacking tent under $200 on our list is the Chillbo Cabbins 2 Person Camping Tent, featuring a lightweight design that is highly portable and durable for 3-season camping. We liked the 2-door configurations this tent has to offer, so both campers can get in and out of the tent without issue. We also liked the complete fly sheet the tent sports, which offers additional insulation from damaging weather elements like wind and rain.
One thing we really liked is that the Chillbo Cabbins 2 Person Camping Tent comes with a carrying bag, making it really easy to breakdown and pack up the tent for easy transport. The entry to the tent is covered, which will serve to keep you nice and dry if stormy weather hits. The tent also sports a mesh design for enhanced ventilation without any need to worry about insects getting through.
The TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent is the best backpacking tent under $200 for its incredibly affordable price tag that offers fantastic protection from harsh weather conditions and bugs. The tent comes with a footprint and rainfly and sports a screen for enhanced ventilation. The screen is a great feature to have for warm weather camping, as you can look outside and enjoy the view without having to worry about bugs flying in.
We were definitely pleased with the roomy interior this tent has to offer, featuring a pitched size of 90 x 78 x 49, while providing quality sleeping space that leaves you enough room to store all your gear and belongings. The tent is really fast and easy to set up and features vents built into the rainfly for excellent air circulation. You can purchase the model in 1 to 4 person capacities, making it an exceptional pick for an array of backpacking needs.
Our final selection for the best backpacking tent under $200 is the ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person Tent, with a waterproof design and spacious interior. It takes no time at all to set up and sports a freestanding design so all you need are dual poles to pitch it. We really liked the quality storage space this tent has to offer, with dual vestibules and mesh storage pockets integrated into the design.
We were also more than satisfied with the water-resistant tent fly that will keep you warm and dry even if rain or wind hits. The dual-door tent sports an enhanced ventilation system, designed from polyester fabric for breathability. The tent also vents really well due to its mesh doors that keep condensation out and promote proper air flow.
The packed weight of this tent is just 5 pounds and 5 ounces, so you won’t have any issue transporting it along with the rest of your gear.
Without a doubt, each of our choices for the best backpacking tent under $200 offer something for everyone, whether you are a frequent backpacker or only like to take occasional camping trips. That said, the choice that we feel offers the most usage, durability, and versatility to backpackers is the Kelty Salida Camping and Backpacking tent.
We love its lightweight frame that is easy to transport, with exceptional ventilation and handy mesh for increased airflow. The 2-person tent is really compact but doesn’t skimp on storage space, with a 10 square foot vestibule and 30.5 square feet of floor space. The freestanding design with 3 folding poles was also fantastic, and we were happy to see the durable nylon material that holds up well against harsh weather elements.
For versatility, durability, space, weight, and compactness, the Kelty Salida Camping Tent reigns supreme as the best backpacking tent under $200.