Good cheap tent

I’m looking for a good cheap tent that will serve for light duty use in spring, summer, and fall camping in the midwest.

I want it to be roomy for 2 adults and maybe a small dog. This tent will probably get used 5 or 10 times a year. I don’t need anything for alpine conditions or anything, but I’d like it to perform as it should in heavy rain.

Any ideas? I don’t mind paying a little more for value, I just don’t want to spend more than I need to.

wal mart has some cheap ones
around $40. A friend has one but in heavy rain and wind it leaks. If you are doing a lot of camping, the extra cost of a good tent is worth it in easier set-up and weatherproofing. I bit the bullet and bought a $200+ Kelty six years ago and am very glad I did. For $33 a year so far its been good.

We Do Good, Quick, Cheap Work…
…pick any two…

Kinda like that with tents - the real cheapies tend to have problems - substandard zippers, flys that are way too small, fabric that soaks thru, grommets that tear out, poles that snap if you look at them the wrong way. We use a Mountain Equipment Co-op Tarn 3 - lists for $225 Cdn., and it’s a fine tent. We do a fair bit of camping, and it has never let us down. Dry, well ventilated, reasonably light, and roomy enough for a man, a lady - and their dog!

Then click the “Tents” link.

While on the MEC site, check out the Online Gear Swap - free listings for used equipment - that’s where we picked up our Tarn 3, for $100. Knowing it as we now do, we wouldn’t hesitate to buy one new - but ours is standing up perfectly, so I doubt if we’ll need to do that.

After being flooded out in wallyworld special I borrowed from my son, broke down and bought a coleman. My wife won’t use my back packing tents so I got a three man dome tent.It survived monsoon deluges at Raystown with nary a leak. The trick when buying it is to visualize rain and heavy winds. So a full rain fly that goes to ground is good. The Cheap little flys that barely cover the top are bad. For a better tent I would recommend(heartily a Eureaka timberline.

Any way the Colman I bought was $50 on close out a cole outlet.

Campmor for tent
Campmor is an excellent source - very good pricing and fast shipping.

The Eureka Timberline . . .
. . . might work, relatively cheap, durable. You can get 'em with or without vestibule in sizes up to six man. They make an outfitter version that is extra tough. Very quick to set up. Pack lenght is a little long.

Timberline ditto
We have had some out for some 350 nights now and they are just showing signs of needing replacement.

If you have a dog I suggest the Outfitter version with thicker floor.

I’ll second the Coleman
I have a Colman similar to the Sundome 7x7 shown here:

Kept us nice and dry on a horribly stormy windy night in the Catskills as the remnants of some hurricane dumped probably an inch of rain on us overnight.

Good cheap Coleman
my 5x7 Sundome has stayed completely dry inside in heavy winds and rain more than once. It was less than $40 and I think this is my 4th year car camping with it, using it about 20 nights each year. Had to replace one pole, and it is showing some signs of wear at this point.

It is good enough for my purposes and I’ll more than likely buy another just like it when it wears out.

Cheap Tent oxymoron
I don’t think there is such a thing as a “good cheap tent”. You usually get what you pay for when tent buying. I would check places like Sierra Trading Post and REI (including the REI outlet) for good deals on a quality tent with good reviews. Look for full coverage rainfly, aluminum poles (instead of fiberglass) and look at 3-person tents for the 2 of you with a size of about 50 square feet. I have a Sierra Designs Tengu 3 that I love. It sets up the fly first, and the tent clips to the underside of the fly (you can leave it all together for easier set up). It is bone dry and easy to get in and out with a huge vestibule. There is one on sale here (I know nothing about this site):

You can’t take the fly off the tent to view the stars because the frame is in the fly, but other than that, I don’t think you can find a better tent for 2 + a dog.

If you buy a cheap tent you may get more than you bargained for, like a wet sleeping bag, broken tent poles and a ruined trip.

has the best value I could find.

The Gunnison and Teton are good 3 season tents with the DAC Featherlite NSL poles.

I got the Teton 2 for $115. Under 5 pounds.

Eureka Tents from Campmor
Check out the after Christmas sales from Campmor, the two man Eureka tents are a durable and they usually have a pretty good deal.

For two adults and a small dog, a 3 or
even 4 man tent can be really nice. I also like the Kelty Gunnison, which is a less expensive, simpler version of our Kelty Vortex 4.

Alps Mountaineering Tents
On Amazon. com. Same quality as many known brands, but less because they don’t have a big advertisement budget to cover. Make sure your tent has near vertical sides or it will be very claustrophobic inside and a lot of lost internal space. If it is designed right and properly guy lined out it will still shed winds just fine. The Alps tents seem to have a good weight to internal space ratio.

I never advocate Wallmart
but you’ve just as good a case as any for it

sounds like anything cheap will do

Spend a little more…

– Last Updated: Dec-27-09 12:13 PM EST –

Spend a little more, and get something of quality, that will last. Easy to set up/take down, and large enough for your proposed usage.

4 man Eureka Timberline (Outfitter model)

Mine is over 12 years old & is still being used; without "ever" having a problem I might add.

The 2 man Eureka Timberline is a great little tent for 1 man & some gear, but I don't see it as suitable for your proposed usage. 2 people & a dog would be a tight squeeze for sure.
I think it is always better to have a "little" more extra room than you need, as opposed to having your bodies pushed up against the sides of the tent walls.

I also have a two man Eureka Timberline (Outfitter model). It is over 15 years old & still in use. Only problem(easy fix) I ever had was bungee cord on rainfly lost its elasticity, but then, it's 15 years old.


Sierra Trading Post
Or outlet usually have high quality tents on sale. $200 will buy a fine tent that will last a generation.


I’ve got the tengu 3

– Last Updated: Dec-27-09 6:49 PM EST –

nchill referenced above, bought from sunnysports as well. Been happy with the tent, leaks a small bit in torrential downpour, but a great tent to set up in the rain as the fly is attached, and clips make quick work of set-up, no feeding poles thru sleeves. Good vestuble as well. Actually bought this tent 3 times, sunnysports had best price by far, and delivery from New Jersey was real quick to me in Ct..
Got a pic of the tengu next to our "garage" tent, which is a Wenzel 8x8, bought from campmor for about $70. Not a bad tent, but can wick rain thru the nylon if you touch it which stinks if you're sleeping in on a rainy morning. A few other things; the poles on the Tengu are much tougher, and the tent being lower is less affected by wind. Feeding poles thru sleeves can stink in the dark, especially in the rain. Overall happy with both tents, they're used for different purposes, and on nice nights, the wenzel or any inexpensive tent is fine.

Take a look at REI tents
It seems that Eureka has a mix of decent and cheap tents - trying too hard to compete against Coleman’s cheap tents. The trouble is figuring out which is which.

I like Alps Mountaineering tents - if you can find them.

REI’s REI-brand tents are great quality at decent prices. You simply won’t go wrong with them. Look for the one that has the features you want.

For 2 adults plus gear and a dog I’d recommend a 4-person tent.

another plug for Alps Mountaineering
I highly recommend them