12 Cheap Tents + Buying Tips for Camping Newbies


Buying a cheap tent can feel overwhelming, because you’re trying to keep in mind not only your budget, but what shape, size and weight you need, not to mention ease of setup, because saving a few bucks isn’t worth it if your shelter blows over at the first light breeze.  

There’s a lot to think about when buying a cheap tent, Robin McKee of camping-expert.com explains to RetailMeNot. Budget is important, obviously, but beyond price tag, your choice of tent will depend on the size of your camping party, whether you’re going to be car camping or backpacking and carrying all of your gear, and, particularly for novice campers, the ease of setup. The following 12 cheap camping tents will give you the most bang for your buck, wherever you decide to travel.

Scroll down to see them all, then keep reading for more expert advice from McKee.

12 Best Cheap Camping Tents  

The Best Cheap Trail Tent Under $25 

Texsport Willowbend 2-Person Trail Tent 

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Image: Dick’s Sporting Goods

This pup tent is lightweight and well constructed for people hoping to lighten their loads.

Why We Love It: Weighing only four pounds, this old-school pup tent tent (meaning it’s got that classic wedge shape) protects you from rain, bugs, sun and won’t weigh down your backpack. It’s also a fun, cheap tent for kids looking to camp out in the backyard — or the living room. 

Price: $24.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods 

The Best Cheap Camping Tent Set 

Ozark Trail 22-Piece Camping Tent Combo

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Image: Walmart.com

Ozark Trail, exclusive to Walmart, is known for affordable camping gear, perfect for people looking to test the camping waters or who only camp very occasionally and don’t want to spend a ton and want reliability.  

Why We Love It: The centerpiece of this set is a single-season dome tent (meaning it’s got that sloped top and is held up via two criss-crossed poles), but at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, this awesome set really is a prime example of “for less than the price of a tent, you not only get a tent that comfortably sleeps four, but also two sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and pillows, two chairs, an LED lantern, and tons of other gear.” 

Price: $169 at Walmart 

The Best Cheap Multi-Room Tent for Families 

StanSport Grand 18 3-Room Family Tent

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Image: Home Depot

Why We Love It: Designed to sleep six to eight people, this three-season tent is great for families. It’s got a mesh ventilated ceiling, inside storage pockets to keep gear neat, and enough room to stand up and move around. 

Price: $169.99 at Home Depot 

The Best Cheap Tent With Fastest Setup

Coleman 6-Person Cabin Tent 

Image: Amazon.com

No one wants to wrestle with a complicated setup, and this tent is about the easiest one around to work with.

Why We Love It: From a trusted brand, this six-person cabin tent (which are typically roomier and have a higher ceiling than other tents) has room for two queen-sized air beds and sets up in as little as 60 seconds, thanks to the preassembled poles. Bonus: the fabric is designed to block 90% of sunlight coming into the tent so you can sleep in.  

Price: $146.99 at Amazon 

The Best Cheap Elevated Tent 

Kamp-Rite CTC Elevated Camping Tent 

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Image: Target

This one-person elevated tent keeps you off the ground and nice and comfy. 

Why We Love It: This is a two-piece tent set that contains both a tent and a cot that you can use together or each separately on their own. Comes in a roller bag for easier carrying, and sets up in a minute. No worries about the damp or cold ground, since you’re up off it, and holds up to 300 pounds.  

Price: $169.99 at Target 

The Best Cheap Basic Dome Tent for Most Campers 

Coleman Skydome 4-Person Tent 

Image: REI

A three-season, four-person dome tent with a decent amount of headroom has a sturdy frame and is a snap to set up. 

Why We Love It: Tested to handle winds up to 35 mph, this tent has pre-attached poles for simple setup, and is designed to offer 20% more headroom than a traditional Coleman dome tent. 

Price: $139.95 at REI 

The Best Cheap Tiny Tent 

OmniCore Designs LINK1 1Person UL Backpacking Tent

Image: Walmart

It’s three pounds (so basically, the weight of a few water bottles) and great for someone looking to sleep solo. 

Why We Love It: Made of a lightweight, tear-resistant, waterproof fabric, this packs down to a trim 5.5” x 5.5” x 19”. You can also take this free-standing tent and connect it to another LINK1 tent, or you can buy a set of two together if you’re camping with another person. 

Price: $102.41 at Walmart 

The Best Cheap Truck Bed Tent 

Guide Gear Truck Bed Tent 

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Image: Target

Hitting the road via truck? This specially designed tent fits perfectly in your truck bed. 

Why We Love It: Designed for a very specific need, this two-person shelter keeps you dry and up off the ground and with your vehicle. Anchors to the truck for stability. 

Price: $129.99 at Target 

The Best Colorful Cheap Tent

Quest Rec Series 3-Person Dome Tent

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Image: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Comes in green, orange and red. Need more than one? Mix and match! 

Why We Like It: The fun colors are enjoyable, as is the under-$50 price tag on this dome tent that sleeps three and only weighs six pounds.

Price: $49.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods 

The Best Cheap Tent With LED Lights

Member’s Mark 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent With LED Lights 

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Image: Sam’s Club

A roomy, cabin-style tent with plenty of lighting. 

Why We Like It: Another excellent beginner camper tent, with an easy setup and a spacious interior that sleeps up to six comfortably. Added bonus are the built-in, LED-lighted poles to glow up your tent and that can be adjusted to low, medium or high. 

Price: $99.98 at Sam’s Club 

The Best Cheap Winter-Ready Tent 

AYAMAYA Winter Tent 

Image: Amazon.com

Most tents are designed for three seasons, says McKee, not four, but this two-person tent is the rare cold-weather tent that comes in at under $100! 

Why We Love It: Waterproof, under six pounds, well ventilated and with an easy setup, this has an inner tent and outer rainfly that together provide extra protection from colder weather. 

Price: $99.99 at Amazon 

The Best Cheap Privacy Shelter Tent 

Stansport Pop Up Privacy Shelter 

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Image: Target

A nice way to give your crew privacy for changing. 

Why We Like It: If you’re camping with a group and want to give everyone a little privacy, this popup shelter is the perfect spot to get changed or for bathing or bathroom use. Do note that there is no waterproof rating here, so don’t expect it to protect you from the elements. 

Price: $66.99 at Target  

Tent Shopping Tips 

Keep these things in mind as you shop for the perfect cheap tent for your camping needs:

Size Matters

As noted above, every ounce matters if you’re going to be backpacking, our expert says, but if you’re car camping, weight doesn’t, and you might want to get a bigger tent, particularly if you want the flexibility of spending time in it besides just when you’re asleep. McKee adds that if a tent claims it’s designed for two people, that’s a cozy two people, so if you need more space, go bigger! Not sure? Specialized camping stores will often have some tents set up for people to see, even though price-wise, specialty stores typically only have more expensive tents. 

One Large Tent vs. A Few Small Ones

If you are camping with younger children, it’s best to buy one big tent so the whole family can sleep together and you can keep an eye on the little ones. But as kids get older and want their space, a few smaller tents that you group together is a nice option, too, and makes it easier to share the load if you’re carrying them while backpacking. 

Pitching A Tent, Not A Fit

Some tents are easier than others to set up. Fewer poles often means easier setup, but not always, McKee warns. If you’re unsure, before you go camping, set up your tent in your apartment or yard as a trial run. 

“You don’t want to be trying to figure it out on a windy or rainy day at the site,” she says. 

Weather and Temperature-Related Decisions

“For rain, you want a fly that covers the entire tent. For cold, you want fewer windows to let the cold air in,” McKee says. “Most regular tents are three season, not [made for] winter.” 

If you are camping where the temps might drop at night, you’ll need warmer clothing, sleeping bags and mattresses so you aren’t sleeping on the cold ground.  

And if you decide you want your creature comforts, there’s nothing wrong with traveling via trailer or RV

The post 12 Cheap Tents + Buying Tips for Camping Newbies appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.

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