7 Best Budget Backpacking Tents of 2024

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A hiker sitting in the doorway of the REI Half Dome SL 2+ backpacking tent with a tree-lined lake in the background
REI Half Dome SL 2+ – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)

On backcountry trips, a shelter is one of your most important gear choices for safety and comfort. When the weather turns nasty, you’ll want to have confidence that your tent will stand up to the elements. But a quality backpacking tent doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg either. If you’re on a tight budget, you may not be able to afford one of the best lightweight backpacking tents on the market, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice on safety.

This list showcases some of the best solid budget tents on the market: they strike a good balance between cost, weight, weather protection, and durability. They aren’t leaders in quality, but beginners and budget-conscious buyers will appreciate their cost effectiveness and performance.

If you’re planning a longer trip or a thru-hike, we strongly recommend checking out ultralight shelters to help cut down on weight. And if you camp with a crowd, then we recommend heading in the other direction to prioritize space. Pop over to our review of the best camping tents to find what you’re looking for.

Quick Picks for Budget Backpacking Tents

Browse our top picks below, or continue scrolling to see our full list with detailed reviews and analysis.

Best budget backpacking tent overall: REI Half Dome SL 2+ ($349)

A close runner-up with a bit more cost savings: REI Trail Hut 2 ($229)

Spacious budget tent: Mountainsmith Morrison 2 ($200)

Roomy budget tent with a simple design: ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 ($150)

Budget tent with a good balance of price, weight & interior space: Marmot Catalyst 2P ($229)

Durable budget tent with ample headroom: North Face Stormbreak 2 ($185)

What’s new

The Clever Hiker team has been backpacking and camping in some of our favorite spots to test the newest budget-friendly tents on the market against our go-to tents from the last few years. There’s been some big changes in the order of our list.

  • Year after year, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ remains one of our team’s favorite crossover tents for camping and backpacking thanks to it’s excellent value, large interior, and durable construction.

  • Another affordable and functional REI model, the Trail Hut 2 takes our second spot as an excellent choice for beginner backpackers who prioritize durability and space.

  • The last major change is the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 makes the cut as a classic, accessible, and simple budget buy for weekend warriors looking to get into the backcountry a few times this summer.

REI Half Dome SL 2+

Best budget backpacking tent overall

Price: $349

Weight: 4 lb. 11.5 oz. (including footprint)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 56 x 42 in.

Features: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Very roomy interior
  • Durable build
  • Freestanding
  • Quick / easy to pitch
  • Footprint included
  • Burly materials and construction
  • Plenty of interior storage
  • Good ventilation


  • Heavier / bulkier than some backpacking tents
  • Vestibules are a bit small
  • Expensive

The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is an Editor’s Pick because when it comes to durability, interior space & quality, this tent cannot be beat for the price. The generous dimensions and overhead crossbar create a ton of interior space for 2 people, and the materials are much more durable than the average backpacking tent. This tent is a bit heavy compared to premium backpacking tents, but it is among the lightest options on our budget tent list. That means it’s perfect for two people to split the weight of the tent, although you can pare down more if you want to, like removing the included footprint. While it costs the most out of all the tents on this list, it also represents a great balance of convenience and affordability. Our team at CleverHiker have all used the Half Dome for years, and investing in this tent directly translates to many years of protective, versatile shelter in both frontcountry and backcountry.

REI Trail Hut 2. Small grey and white backpacking tent.

REI Trail Hut 2

A close runner-up with a bit more cost savings

Price: $229

Weight: 5 lb. 8 oz. (without footprint)

Dimensions: 88 x 52 x 40 in.

Features: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Freestanding
  • Large doors/vestibules
  • Strong zippers
  • Quick/easy to pitch
  • Footprint included


  • Heavier/bulkier than some backpacking tents
  • Less headroom than some
  • Not enough stakes/guylines included

REI makes some of the most affordable and durable tents on the market, and our next Editor’s Pick – the REI Trail Hut 2 – is another great example of this. It strikes a solid balance between functionality and price. If you’re new to backpacking or you’re on a tight budget, this tent is an excellent option to start out with. If you split the Trail Hut between two hikers, the weight and bulk isn’t too bad, and the easy set up makes it even more appealing. This classic backpacking tent design has been highly functional for many years, and it’s tough enough to withstand usage on the trail for hundreds (if not thousands) of miles, and it excels as an ultra durable and easy-to-love shelter for the frontcountry. If you’re willing to pay a little more for a bump up in quality, interior space, and weight savings, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ (above) is a premium option with a few more details than the Trail Hut.

Mountainsmith Morrison 2

Best spacious budget tent

Price: $200

Weight: 4 lbs. 11 oz. (without footprint)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 92 x 56 x 43 in.

Features: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Affordable
  • Spacious interior
  • Large doors / vestibules
  • Full-coverage rainfly
  • Freestanding
  • Quick / easy to pitch


  • Less headroom than some on this list
  • Footprint not included
  • Bulky to store
  • Rainfly fabric is a bit noisy

The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 has a similar design to the REI Trailmade (classic 2-door, rectangular tent with crossing poles), but it can often be found at a lower price, which is why it’s on this list. When it comes to an affordable, no-frills tent that’s comfortable for 2, this tent checks every box. Like the Trailmade, this tent doesn’t have a top bar to make the walls vertical, which slightly reduces headroom. That said, the Morrison still boasts large dimensions, which helps it feel roomy inside. We prefer the nylon tent body of the Trailmade 2 over the polyester of the Morrison, and the Trailmade also has larger vestibules, but both tents are solid budget buys. Pick up the Morrison 2 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent is also available in a 3-person model.

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2

Roomy budget tent with a simple design

Price: $150

Weight: 5 lbs. 4 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 60 x 46 in.

Features: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Very affordable
  • Spacious interior
  • Large doors / vestibules
  • Excellent value
  • Freestanding
  • Quick / easy to pitch


  • Heavier than most backpacking tents
  • Not as durable as some
  • Tent fabric can be a bit noisy

The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 is another budget tent with a simple, classic design. It’s fa. The Lynx can often be found at even lower prices than the REI Trailmade 2 and Mountainsmith Morrison 2, but it’s worth noting that at over 5 pounds, this model on the heavy and bulky side for backpacking. The extra weight and bulk does come with the benefit of increased interior space, but again there’s no top crossbar in this tent for vertical sidewalls. If you want more livable space, ALPS also makes the Chaos 2, which does have a top crossbar for more headroom, but the Chaos is more expensive, heavier, and has a shorter length, height, and width than the Lynx – so we wouldn’t recommend it for backpacking. For additional durability, you can pick up the Lynx 2 footprint. This tent is also available in 1-person, 3-person, and 4-person models.

Marmot Catalyst 2

Price: $229

Weight: 4 lb. 11 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 88 x 53 x 44 in.

Features: 2-Person, 3-Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Durable materials
  • Quick / easy to pitch
  • Excellent value
  • Freestanding
  • Quick / easy to pitch
  • Footprint included
  • Strong zippers


  • Vestibules a bit smaller than some
  • Not enough stakes for guy lines
  • Not enough mesh / ventilation for damp nights
  • Rainfly doors a bit cumbersome to open and close

The Marmot Catalyst 2P has a good blend between weight and interior space among budget tents, due to its arching crossbar design. The Catalyst has a unique asymmetrical shape, but the end result is still effective. One nice feature with this tent is that it comes with a footprint included, which will save you some money if you’re looking for extra tent floor protection. We appreciated the head room, large doors, and decent amount of interior storage.

This tent does have it’s quirks though, like its half see-through mesh, half polyester taffeta tent body, and the fact that it only comes with six tent stakes for it’s eight primary stake points. The main downside with this tent is that it could use more ventilation to keep interior condensation down, which is a common downside among budget tents. All quirks aside, the Catalyst is still a quality budget option. This tent is also available in a 3-person model.

The North Face Stormbreak 2

Price: $185

Weight: 5 lb. 5 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 87 x 50 x 43 in.

Features: 2-Person, 3-Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding


  • Durable materials
  • Excellent value
  • Freestanding
  • Spacious interior / lots of headroom
  • Large vestibules
  • Plenty of storage


  • Footprint sold separately
  • Bulky stored size
  • Heavier than most tents
  • Poles are a bit flimsy

The North Face Stormbreak 2 is a durable budget option with two top crossbars that help increase headroom and livability. The Stormbreak also has two large vestibules that come in handy for external gear storage, offering a ton of room for backpacks, dirty shoes, and anything else you want out of the elements. We appreciate the nearly-flat ceiling, which creates plenty of headroom for 2 people to sit up and move around. The main downside with the Stormbreak is its weight and bulk, which limit its functionality as a backpacking tent. It also doesn’t have many added comforts, like interior pockets. Still, as a sturdy and durable budget option with plenty of interior space, this The North Face model is a solid buy. Pick up the Stormbreak 2 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in 1-person and 3-person models.

A hiker sitting in the doorway of The North Face Stormbreak 2 tent in a sunny Arizona campsite
North Face Stormbreak 2 – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)

Types Of Tents


If you love backpacking and plan to hike a lot over many years, it probably makes sense to pay more for a high quality, lightweight backpacking tent. We think our best lightweight backpacking tents list provides the best combination of weight, cost, weather protection, durability, and ease of use for most backpackers. The best lightweight budget options on that list (which overlap with this one) are the REI Trail Hut and REI Half Dome SL 2+ tents.


There are also some good budget options on our ultralight tarps and tents page, but those choices tend to be a bit more specialized, so we usually don’t recommend them to casual backpackers. Make sure you read the “critical tent considerations” section (specifically the “setup” and “wall construction” sections) if you’re considering one of these tents. On our ultralight tents page, the Six Moon Designs HavenTarpTent Double Rainbow3F UL Gear Lanshan 2, and TarpTent MoTrail & Protrail are good budget choices. Just remember, trekking poles are required for these tents and their weight/cost is not included. In addition, Tarptent and Six Moon Design tents require seam sealing, which will add $30-35.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

Critical Tent Considerations


You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality backpacking tent. If you backpack a lot, it may make sense to spend more for a quality lightweight tent that will get many years of use. If you’re looking for a step up in quality from the budget recommendations below, check out our top lightweight tents and ultralight tents pages.


A few ounces here and there might not seem like a big deal, but keeping pack weight down is critical for enjoying backpacking trips. Lightweight tents make hiking more fun, and that’s what it’s all about. Your tent will be one of the four heaviest items on your back (shelter, backpack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad), so it’s a great place to keep weight to a minimum. The tents we recommend on this list are lightweight by budget standards, but increased weight is one of the biggest tradeoffs with budget tent options. If you’re looking for a lightweight tent, we recommend checking out our top lightweight and ultralight tents pages.

The REI Trailmade 2 backpacking tent set up on a ridge with a view of Mt. Hood in the background
REI Trailmade 2 – Photo credit: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CleverHiker.com)


If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent, it’s more comfortable to have two doors and vestibules. Having separate entrances will ensure that you’re not climbing over your tentmate and two sets of gear every time you want to get in or out of your tent. That’s a huge benefit, and it’s why (almost) every tent on this list has two doors and vestibules.


A backpacking tent that doesn’t protect against the elements is not only worthless, it’s dangerous. Be careful about extreme budget tents you’ll find elsewhere. Every tent on this list will provide solid storm protection to keep you safe, dry, and warm from the very first use.


The main tradeoff with ultralight tents is that they’re built using thinner materials that tend to be less durable than heavy-duty shelters. That said, ultralight tents will last for thousands of miles if treated with a little care. It’s also important to remember that a sharp stick will go through just about any kind of tent fabric. So if you’re tough on gear and don’t want to deal with lightweight materials, choose one of our heavier recommendations built for durability. Personally, we think ultralight tents are well worth the tradeoff.



Backpacking tents keep weight to a minimum by limiting interior space (and thus, use less material). Most two-person tents have room for two sleepers and a few stuff sacks, with backpacks and extra gear stored in the vestibules. If you want more interior space for camping comfort, you may want to bump up one size in tents (for example, buy a 3-person tent to fit 2 hikers). Just remember, interior tent space is a tradeoff between comfort and weight. If you prefer hiking light and crushing miles, stick with a 2-person model for two hikers. If you’re willing to carry more weight for camping comfort, you may want to bump up one tent size.


1-Person tents are great for dedicated solo adventurers looking to hike fast and light. 2-Person tents tend to be the most popular, because they strike a good balance between weight and interior space, just don’t expect the interior to be palatial. 3 & 4-Person tents tend to get crowded and impractical, though they can be a good fit for 2 or 3 hikers wanting more interior space for gear storage and extended hangouts.

REI Half Dome SL 2 – (CleverHiker.com)


3-season shelters are the most popular backpacking tents and the style we focus on in this guide. They’re built for spring, summer, and fall trips where you’ll need to keep bad weather out while promoting air circulation. 3-Season tents can usually handle a little snow, but they’re not made for heavy snow and winter conditions.


A single design flaw can easily ruin an otherwise solid backpacking tent. Great tents keep design elements simple and include multiple doors, adequate vestibule space, lots of headroom, air vents to reduce condensation, and interior pockets for gear storage.



Most tents don’t come with a footprint these days and many lightweight backpackers view them as unnecessary. The main benefit of a footprint is adding durability to the floor of your tent. A footprint will protect your tent floor from abrasion, so it will last longer and need fewer repairs. If you’re willing to carry some extra weight to extend the life of your tent, consider picking up a footprint made specifically for your tent.

Setting up the REI Half Dome SL 2 – (CleverHiker.com)


Freestanding tents are generally prefered because they’re easier to use and quicker to pitch. They come with a fixed pole system that can be set up almost anywhere, even on solid rock. Non-freestanding tents use stakes, guylines, and trekking poles for pitching. They save weight by cutting out tent poles, but require more time and space to pitch, and will take practice to master.


Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a mesh tent body and a rainfly. The mesh inner-tent acts as a barrier from any condensation that forms on the inside of the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by ditching the mesh inner-tent, but that leaves hikers vulnerable to interior condensation in wet and cold conditions. Rubbing up against a wet tent interior is the pits, so that’s why we mostly recommend double wall tents, unless you generally backpack in dry climates. For ultralight hikers open to the idea of single-wall shelters, have a look at our ultralight tarp and tent recommendations.


Check the seller’s return policy before you buy, but you can almost always return an unused tent within a certain time frame after purchasing. We recommend buying your top choice, testing it at home, and returning or exchanging if it doesn’t feel quite right. We’ve been buying lightweight tents online for years and we’ve yet to have a single problem.