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Are Backpacking Tents Worth The High Price?

The last thing you want to do at the end of the day following a long, tiring hike is to unroll a 20 lb tent, and struggle with the placement of multiple tent poles, only to repeat the process day in and day out. This makes many beginners wonder if backpacking tents are worth the high price.

Backpacking tents are worth the high price. Their fabric and pole material is rugged, durable, and meant to be repeatedly broken down and handled. Backpacking tents feature simple, straightforward setup designs so you can have access to a quick shelter should the moment call for it.

Below, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of backpacking tents in more detail. We’ll go through the main differences between cheap and expensive tents, before giving you some examples of decent backpacking tents you might want to consider for your next trip.

Is An Expensive Backpacking Tent Worth It?

When selecting a backpacking tent, you will find that the prices can range from as little as $50 or less to hundreds of dollars. But are the higher end tents worth the cost? To answer that, consider a worst-case scenario – the wind is throwing the buckets of rain that are coming down sideways, thunder is booming and lightning abounds, and it is cold enough to see your breath.

You are also on your own and do not have access to a solid shelter. At this moment, you are not going to be smiling, thinking proudly to yourself, that you saved some cash buying a cheap tent. Do your future self a favor and select a tent that is going to take care of your needs in a bad situation!

Warm, Dry And Comfortable

The inability to keep yourself warm and dry and finding your gear getting soaked is not the type of adventure most of us are looking to have. You need to feel confident in your camping equipment. More often than not, this means spending some extra money for peace of mind.

Most trailside locations can accommodate a 1 or 2 person backpacking tent, and the enclosed space can provide warmth by entrapping your body heat. On a hot evening, they also offer enough ventilation that they do not become suffocating and stuffy.

A good, reliable backpacking tent is an absolutely essential piece of equipment and well worth the high price of tents. If you know that you will purchase a tent but don’t know which one, renting backpacking gear is another option to consider.

What Is The Difference Between A Cheap And Expensive Tent?

Cheaper tents are going to provide you with your basic shelter. Under normal, standard conditions you will get by just fine with regard to keeping bugs off you and staying (mostly) dry in the case of a few passing rain clouds.

Depending on how much you want to carry and how much work you are willing to do, you could certainly pack a few extendable poles, some additional cordage, and a small tarp to put over the top of a cheaper tent, and find comparable results to a more expensive tent.

More Expensive Tents

In most cases, you will find that a more expensive tent gives you better waterproof accommodation that is designed to provide a stable, temporary shelter in both hot and cold environments. They may also feature more intricate designs that might include a built-in sleeping pad, added ventilation, an additional/attachable outer “shell”, or even off the ground sleeping.

What Are The Best Backpacking Tents For The Money?

At a minimum, you want to be confident that you are going to be able to stay dry and stay warm in a given situation. Bear in mind that built-in pads are luxuries that are not necessary and will just add to your price tag. Couple the following options with a small, plastic ground cloth and you can feel good about your gear and what you still have left in your wallet.

Eureka Solitaire

Eureka has built a reputation for providing quality outdoor camp equipment and the Eureka Solitaire tent can be picked up fairly cheaply if you shop around. It also has a waterproof floor and rain fly.

The North Face Stormbreak I

The North Face Stormbreak I comes in at the next step up in terms of budget, and you get a well-designed and relatively spacious tent that is going to keep you and your gear dry.

Final Thoughts

Backpacking tents are worth the high price when you consider the quality that you’re getting for your money. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but with higher prices usually comes more durable materials, simple setup, and usually better protection against the elements too.