Cheap Tents vs Expensive Tents

I’ve heard this question asked so many times around the web and heck I’ve even asked this question myself “Why are tents so expensive?”

There’s a few reasons why tents are expensive and I’ll explain why in a minute but first let me start by saying if you are new to camping, meaning you have never done it before or you have but did it many years ago when you were younger, then don’t invest in an expensive tent.

Why do I say that, because if you haven’t camped much you’re still in the phase of “I’m not sure this is for me”. You’re probably testing the waters so to speak and not sure if this is something you want to keep doing.

If this is the case then investing in an expensive tent is not a good buying decision. Some people will say that if you buy a cheap tent and it rains you’ll get wet and have a terrible experience which by the way isn’t true. With some prep work before leaving on your camping trip your cheap tent can preform just as well as an expensive one. Let me explain.

Why tents are so expensive

Short answer is the quality of the materials a tent is made of, plain and simple. Expensive tents usually have a better design making them easier to set up, the tent poles are sturdier, the material is waterproofed, won’t rip easily and are lighter in weight depending on the size of the tent you buy.

But you can buy a cheap tent and still get some of the same results you get with an expensive one. We’ve had cheap tents over our 20+ years of camping and they’ve done fine even in rainy weather.

Ways to get more out of a cheap tent

– Waterproof and seam seal the tent to keep water out.
– Set a tarp up over your tent.
– Buy a tent that comes with a rain fly.
– Use a footprint under your tent to keep the floor of your tent dry.

FYI – A footprint is also called a groundcloth and you can make your own if your tent didn’t come with one. Use a Tyvek 4 X 8 Foot Ground Cloth and follow the directions here at Backpacker Magazine.

I do recommend setting up your tent at home before leaving for your trip. You don’t want to get to camp and discover something important is missing like the poles. That would suck! And this can happen whether you buy an expensive tent or cheap one so be prepared especially if this is your first time.

So if you’re starting out buy a cheap tent first, you can always upgrade later if camping is what you want to continue doing because it really doesn’t matter that you’re camping in a cheap tent. People never ask us how much we paid for our tent, they usually say “I like that design, who makes that tent or where did you buy your tent?”

My recommendation for an easy to put up tent is the Instant Tent by Coleman.
Picture below, we love it. It fits 2 people, 2 dogs comfortable. Our best camping tent so far.

Coleman Instant Tent

Coleman Instant Tent Easy Peasy to put up, even I can do it myself.

Was this helpful, do you know someone who is in the market for a tent? Share with all your friends.
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