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Backpacking Tents: Is The High Price Worth The Moolah?

The last thing we want to do at the end of the day following a long, tiring hike is unrolling a 20 lb, tent, struggle with the placement of multiple tent poles, steaks, and tie-downs. Only to repeat the process day in and day out. But that begs the question: What’s with the high price of tents?

retail store backpacking tents on display; better than the average high price of tents

Why are backpacking tents so expensive? To begin with – the 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. Additionally, you will find that their diminutive size provides advantages that you would not get out of your traditional camping tent.

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 or night, they 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 is another option.

If you are interested in checking out the best backpacking tents you can find them by clicking here.

Is An Expensive Backpacking Tent Worth It?

expensive 4 season tent looking out to the tundra; the function of this tent carries a high price

In selecting a backpacking tent, one will find that the prices can vary anywhere from as little as under $50 and rise as high as into the hundreds of dollars.

Are the higher end tents worth the cost though? 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, “Not only did I save 15% by switching to Geico, but I saved another $75 not picking out that tent with the waterproof rainfly and seams.” Do future you a favor and select a tent that is going to take care of your needs in a bad situation!

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. Knock on wood, it never comes down to a truly ugly scenario like this, but you have got to feel confident in your camp equipment.

More often than not, this means spending some extra money for peace of mind.

What Is The Difference Between A Cheap And Expensive Tent?

a line of 4 season backpacking tents

What exactly are you getting out of the higher end backpacking tents vs a cheaper one though? Your lower-cost tents are going to provide you with your basic shelter. Under normal, standard conditions you will get by just fine with 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, one 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.

In most cases, you will find that a more expensive tent is giving you a water-proof accommodation (learn about hydrostatic head) that is designed to provide a stable, temporary shelter in both hot and cold environments. They also may 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 – just to name a few.

The bottom line is you can expect to get more out of these and be required to do less equipping and accommodating yourself to handle potentially hazardous weather scenarios.

What Are The Best Backpacking Tents For The Money?

With all of this in mind – just what are the best backpacking tents for your money? Let’s go back to our worst-case scenario. At a minimum, we want to be confident that we are going to be able to stay dry and stay warm in a given situation.

Built-in pads or specialty added space designs 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 this particular tent checks in under $100; also has a waterproof floor and rain fly.
Eureka Solitaire 1 person tent for backpacking
Eureka! Solitaire – One Person Tent
  • The North Face Stormbreak I – Coming in around the lower $100’s, you get a well-designed and relatively spacious tent that is going to keep you and your gear dry.
The North Face Stormbreak 1 One-Person Tent
The North Face Stormbreak 1 – One Person Tent
  • Alps Mountaineering Chaos – This 1 man tent has an extended rainfly to provide additional out of tent space for your gear; priced reasonably in the mid $100s.
Alps Mountaineering Chaos 1-person tent
Alps Mountaineering Chaos One Person Tent

Related Questions:

Why Is Camping So Expensive?

Taking the time to prepare for a camping trip and you will soon realize that camping can be very expensive. Tents, camp chairs, food tubs, coolers, camp stove, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tarps, canopy, rope, lantern, firewood, trash bags, towels, sunscreen, propane…yes, the list goes on. So, start small and camp locally, borrow or rent the basics, and learn and grow over time. You will be glad that you did.

Where Can I Buy A Backpacking Tent?

I would suggest that it isn’t where to buy but more what type of tent do I need. Learn more about tents in our post: How Heavy Are Backpacking Tents? Oh, and to answer the question backpacking tents can be purchased online, at Walmart, Specialty shops, and many other places.

Why Is Hiking In The Winter Better Than The Summer?

Soon, winter will be upon us. It will be cold and snowy. I can’t wait. Winter is the end of pesky bugs, hot and humid days, and rocky trails. While it is cold, the trails are flattened with deep, packed snow, much easier on the feet and ankles. Oh, and the views are spectacular at the tops of the mountains.

Matthew J – Freelance Writer/ Avid Backpacker