With the rise of the Internet reality and location-free work, the concept of travelling either professionally or as a hobby has become alluring.
With this foray into the unknown, the need for shelter from the elements and other ‘unwanted companions’ has also become hugely popular. However, there exists a challenge: getting affordable, light and durable tents that are fit for the intended purpose.
It is in the light of this urgent reality that we have chronicled the best lightweight backpacking tents under $200 in this detailed review post.
However, before we discuss the awesome options at your disposal for such a fair price, let’s take a look at what you need to consider when shopping for a lightweight backpacking tent.
- What to Look Out For When Selecting a Lightweight Backpacking Tent
- 1. Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person, 3 Season Tent
- 2. Alps Mountaineering Lynx
- 3. Bryce 2P Two Person Ultralight Tent
- 4. ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent
- 5. Sundome 2-Person Tent
- So, which is the best backpacking tent for under $200?
What to Look Out For When Selecting a Lightweight Backpacking Tent
Before you finally commit to a lightweight backpacking tent for your next (big or small) outdoor adventure, you need to take a look at the tent to ensure that it meets the express criteria listed and explained below.
a. Floor Space
It is very important to take note that any backpacking tent you are purchasing should have ample floor space to enable you put your backpack right inside and enjoy a stretch either alone or with a partner (for the designs that accommodate two or more users).
To get the correct floor space that will serve, you must first of all take into cognizance what will be stored inside the tent and the size/number of occupants who will use the tent at any given time.
This implicates the free space that your head has to turn around/navigate without actually inhibiting your free movement.
Some tents do not permit their users to stand upright: users have to bend down low before entering and maintain a squatting posture all through their movement within and when getting out of the tent. This is thus a very a serious consideration to take serious especially if you’re taller than average, and if you are thinking of using the tent in rough weather or are plainly ignorant of the weather to expect.
The weight of the backpacking tent you are interested in also amounts to a serious consideration you must particularly take serious.
While all the tents reviewed here are quite lightweight, it is instructive to note that weight is one of the features/specifications of a tent you must not compromise on — especially if you intend to move around with it as a backpack and also wish to enjoy your tour and make it memorable. Remember the idea of traveling light to cover quick distances and achieve your aims and goals faster? Well, this is it!
Before you decide on the ideal lightweight backpacking tent for use, it is important to take into cognizance the total number of users that would be using or sharing your tent at any given time.
The most popular option is the two-person sleeper or carrier. However, if you are a solo traveller/adventurist (or practically hate sharing a tent with anyone); you may opt in for the solo sleeper/carrier.
If you envisage family use, what would be ideal for you will be an option for four or more users.
Ordinarily, tents are made for various seasons and it is instructive to take particular note of the exact season the tent you are investing money in is meant to cater for.
However, there are a few models that are meant to be used all round the season. These are the variants that can practically protect and offer shelter irrespective of the season in question.
Before deciding which tent variant to opt for, it would thus be a smart idea to review your needs and decide which of the tent variants will serve you better. Before you do this, it would be wise to slow down the purchase process.
f. Footprint design/ non-footprint design
While this appears to be a trivial consideration for many tent users/buyers today, it should be an important one for you especially if you walk into your backpack tent with your boots or walk inside it with any hard-soled shoes on.
A footprint design backpack tent is one that is designed in such a manner that it supports footprints or is footprint-friendly. This is achieved by creating artificial footprints around the tent meant to be used either when entering or walking around the tent. These artificial footprints on the other hand are reinforced with thicker material so that where actual footprints rest won’t be susceptible to easy wear or worse, quick tear.
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Having successfully treated what to look out for when buying a tent for outdoor camping, let’s move on to our review of the best lightweight backpacking tents available for less than $200.
1. Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person, 3 Season Tent
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person, 3 Season Tent is a truly rugged and versatile backpacking tent offered by Mountainsmith, one of the leading manufacturers of tents for the past 30 years. This tent was recognized in 2011 by Backpacker Gear Guide as a ‘killer deal’ and has also won the ‘killer value’ award.
The Mountainsmith Morison 2 person, 3 season tent features a bathtub floor that is specially fitted with tapped seams to keep the interior dry, flouts a two pole design and has a color coded fly attachment system with setup and unpacking instructions printed right on it for quick reference and trouble free setup.
Aside featuring a 35 square feet of main floor space that is clearly suited for two grown adults, it also comes with a standard lifetime warranty – the ultimate indicator and hallmark of both reliability and absolute quality.
- All season use. The waterproof feature is particularly worthy of highlighting especially since rains are the biggest singular threat users of tents face.
- Lifetime warranty: this is an indication of the inherent quality and the determination of the manufacturer to ensure both reliability and enduring quality.
- Bathtub floor design (with tapped seams) to ensure the interior – particularly the floor is kept completely dry during the rains of tricky weather.
- Two door/ two vestibule layout for ease of access and quick exit.
- Tent fly ventilation windows. This particularly useful during the summer periods or when natural air proves tricky.
- Some users have complained that this tent is heavy.
- The tent is adequate and comfortable for two average sized persons; plus sized user will thus naturally have a challenge using – and enjoying this model.
2. Alps Mountaineering Lynx
Perfect for the solo getaway, the Alps Mountaineering Lynx is a light weight backpacking tent with a vestibule for gear storage and weather proof fly buckets for maximum protection of its inhabitants/ users.
It is fitted with extra-large zippers on the doors and vestibule to increase easy access and facilitate easy exit. The floor itself is tapped with seams and the walls are mostly mesh to increase ventilation, tent-wide.
It is very important to note that this tent is one of the most reliable tents today for solo adventure seekers and those whose interests/hobbies takes them far away homes where they need reliable and quality shelter that will stand the test of the elements and also provide basic comfort at the same time.
- Extra-large zippers on door and vestibule for easy access/exit.
- Coated and seamed floor to ensure users are kept dry during a rain shower.
- Free standing pole design. This is great for easy setup and unpacking.
- Extra-light design for easy movement and transport.
- Some extra-large users (with extra gear) have complained about the space in this tent model. If you don’t travel light and are overweight, this is something to consider (and resolve) before the purchase process.
- Sitting up comfortably is tricky for users who are 5’11 and above.
3. Bryce 2P Two Person Ultralight Tent
The Bryce 2P Person Ultralight Tent is a super light backpacking tent that has been rightly tagged ‘your new home, away from home’.
With tapped seams, outer and inner zippers; mesh pockets, included standard footprints, a back vent and practical waterproof, we have no option than to completely agree that it is indeed a new home away from home.
Inspired by the mountains of Colorado and born from the region, this tent is manufactured by Paria Outdoor and the brand is known for high quality and supremely reliable products. This tent model can comfortably provide shelter for two persons in an awesome manner.
- Waterproof design. This ensures you are safe and adequately sheltered when the rains come calling.
- Supremely lightweight. This makes the backpack very easy to carry around and go seeking adventure with it.
- Inner and out zipper for ease of access.
- Standard footprint included. This ensures that you reasonably safeguard and elongate the lifespan of your tent.
- With only one air vent, the tent is not particularly ‘ventilation friendly’.
4. ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent
The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent is a free-standing two pole design with shock corded fiberglass poles. The 2 person tent is made largely of mesh panels and affords great ventilation with 2 zippered windows in the door.
This backpacking tent is practically waterproof and offers great and comfortable protection against the elements, particularly, the rains. The poles are in themselves made of aluminum to ensure a longer lasting and rust free operation. This gives peace of mind and is in itself an astute assurance of quality and long term reliability.
Finally the seals are factory seamed to assure maximum water repellence and the walls are uncoated so that they can ‘breathe’ and ensure maximum oxygen flow right in the tent. These two important features ensure that the tent serves it intended purposes all through the year, irrespective of the weather in question.
- Water proof design to ensure all season use.
- Factory sealed seams for maximum water repellence.
- 2 door design for easy exit and entry, especially when shared with someone.
- #8 door zippers which are proven to be more reliable that most of the lesser and inferior zippers in the market today.
- We couldn’t find any notable cons for this tent.
5. Sundome 2-Person Tent
The Sundome 2-Person Tent supports two happy campers and ensures that they rest well for the time they take shelter in it. To make sure of this, the manufacturer has increased its water resistance ability to a welcome and healthy 33% more than the conventional tents commonly sold in the market today.
Besides this, the door is quite large for easy entry and exit – with the center dome set up high enough to support taller users who may wish to navigate the tent in a more comfortable/ easy fashion.
The tent also features 2 windows for ventilation and views and also includes two air beds for occupants. For extra protection, the seams are properly welded to guard against a leaky floor and ensure a consistently positive camping experience even in the worst of weathers. As a plus, the tent is also fire retardant – a nice feature to have during the dry seasons of the tropics, especially in Africa.
- Fire retardant: this is beautiful feature to have and sport, especially in the tropics where forest fires are pretty common.
- Large door for easy entry/exit.
- Two windows for ventilation – even during unfavorable weather.
- Standard rainfly included for extra weather protection: this assures peace of mind especially during the rain or an occurrence of sudden and tricky weather.
- Neat hook on the dome that could be used for hanging lights, insect repellants etc.
- Large room to comfortably store extra gear – aside the comfortable accommodation of two.
- Great airbeds that are; also surprisingly comfortable.
- Some users have complained that the tent is slightly heavy as a backpacking tent.
- One door design. This does not make it easy for the person sleeping furthest from the door to easily exit.
So, which is the best backpacking tent for under $200?
Any one of the above reviewed models you decide to choose (we handpicked them and all of them are masterpieces in their individual respects with a ton of positive reviews and a horde of satisfied users).
However, to make an intelligent and super informed choice that you will be proud of, it is best to make certain that you actually take a look at the pros and cons and decide which suits you better.
If you are in hurry however (or couldn’t spend time on reading the entire review word for word), we’ll suggest that you take a look at the ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent: it has no cons that we could report or take note of.
Enjoy both the shopping process and the camping!