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Best Budget Thru-Hiking Tents

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For most who choose to thru-hike one of the big three trails, the gear will be a large chunk of their expenses before and also while on the trail. Gear is what protects you and gives you the safety to sleep at night and to push yourself to your limits for 4-6+ months so let’s discuss the best budget backpacking tent.

The perception is that you need to buy a tent like the Zpacks Duplex or similar $600+ tents made from high-tech fibers like Dyneema, but this is far from the truth and you can choose many other tents at a more budget-friendly cost that can live up to the trail life.

Today let’s dig into finding the best budget thru-hiking tent and allow you a chance to see and weigh the benefits and drawbacks to the tents which come in at a less wallet-destroying price with nothing being over $300!

Our Best Budget Tents for Thru-Hiking

Name (Purchase)TypeWeight (oz)Read More (Link)
3F UL Gear Lanshan 2PTrekking PoleBest Overall Performance
Six Moons Designs Lunar SoloTrekking PoleBest for Ultralight Backpackers
Dan Durston X-Mid 1PTrekking PoleBest for 1P Backpackers
3F UL Gear LanShan 2 ProTrekking PoleBest Single Wall Budget 2P Tent
REI Half Dome SL 2+FreestandingBest for Interior Space and Liveability
Dan Durston X-Mid 2PTrekking PoleBest for Double Wall Superior Interior Space
REI Co-op Flash Air 2 TentTrekking PoleBest Value-Option Hybrid Single Wall Tent
Six Moon Designs Skyscape ScoutTrekking PoleBest Polyester Budget Tent
OneTigris TangramTrekking PoleBest New Budget Option
Naturehike Mongar 2FreestandingBest Freestanding Budget Tent
Near-Zero UltralightFreestandingBudget Push For Freestanding Quality

Best Budget Thru-Hiking Tents for Thru-Hiking Reviewed

Best Overall Performance

3F UL Gear Lanshan 2P (AKA Meir, AKA Flames Creed, etc)

  • The 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 2 is a popular two-person tent that is among the most cost-effective ultralight tents available on the market. The new 2021 version offers increased room to be more comfortable for individuals who are taller.
  • The Lanshan 2 is built to last and is suited for all conditions and activities. It’s especially made for UL hikers.

Solo hikers will appreciate the perfect balance between internal space for rest and pack breakdown at night and its overall lightness.

With enough room for both and a separate entrance and vestibule for each, the Lanshan 2 can easily accommodate two people or one thru-hiker with all their gear inside.

The flys’ bottoms curved, allowing for continuous air circulation and the reduction of moisture buildup which can be the bane of drying a tent out in the morning.

The tent body is a 5000mm waterproof PU coating over silicone-treated nylon ripstop. All seams are sealed with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape.


Best for Ultralight Backpackers

Six Moons Designs Lunar Solo

  • While the Full Vestibule of the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo offers protection and ventilation when closed, it also allows for excellent ventilation and vision when opened. The vestibule’s fully opened form provides optimum airflow and vision.
  • The Tension Adjustment device from Six Moon Designs makes maintaining the tent taut a simple operation that can be completed while still in your sleeping bag. Additionally, all tie-out points have been re-tension straps.

The Lunar Solo’s unique low hexagonal form readily spills the wind in any direction. With short, steeply sloped sides, you can easily handle snow or strong winds. A large canopy covers a 26 sq. ft. sleeping space with 8.5 sq. ft of vestibule storage. The peak height of 49″ is placed in the middle of the tent to maximize space.

The sleeping area is designed to be as efficient as possible, with a focus on ventilation and visibility. There’s plenty of headroom thanks to a peak height of 48 inches. The canopy may be set to various heights using the Floating Canopy feature. The Floating Floor feature minimizes floor stress and punctures caused by sharp objects.

The sleeping area is made up of a 6-inch deep bathtub floor cushioned by 6 inches of mesh. This ensures optimal ventilation while keeping you away from low canopy walls. On those wet nights, this prevents condensation from forming on the canopy.


Best for 1P Backpackers

Dan Durston X-Mid 1P

  • The FASTEST tent to pitch available on the market, my favorite tent for my outdoor trips!
  • Incredibly spacious interior due to the unique outer and inner construction being a parallelogram instead of just squared off allowing much taller people to fit!

The X-Mid 1P pitches with as little as 2 trekking poles and 4 stakes, this makes it incredibly simple to pitch and get you ready to relax in comfort.

The X-Mid is a robust, roomy, and stormworthy boat, while anything lighter is smaller, less functional, and/or uses less durable materials.

The X-Mid 1 is roomy, simple to set up, and stormworthy for only 1.75 lbs (28oz / 800 g). It performs well in the rain thanks to a fly-first pitch, full double-wall construction, no-sag poly fabric, large adjustable vents, factory seam taping, a full-coverage fly.

Unlike most trekking pole tents, the X-Mid features a straightforward 4 stake pitch that doesn’t require any guylines, struts, or measuring pole heights. With huge doorways that aren’t obstructed by poles and simple one-handed zipper operation, the user-friendliness continues after setup.

Best Single Wall Budget 2P Tent

3F UL Gear LanShan 2 Pro

  • Tent Feels Amazinly MASSIVE – The inside with the change to a single-wall provides you with even more interior space which allows people to lay down with ample space at both their head and their feet.
  • Simple & Easy Setup – You can set this tent up with relative speed as you peg out all four main corners, add trekking poles and stake out the doors and get inside!

The Lanshan 2 Pro is the further enhancement on the original Lanshan 2, moving from a double wall to a single wall. The PU/Silicone on this version has been replaced with two side Silicone, which is four times more durable than normal fabric.

Silnylon is not factory taped because of its physical characteristics, so it must be sealed with silicone outside. Why would they choose this fabric in the more advanced Lanshan PRO, which has obvious flaws?

It was a choice they made regarding the length of time the cloth will age and tear. They believe that areas visited by professional hikers will be rougher and harsher, visit areas with stronger UV rays, and age the fabric faster.


Best for Interior Space and Liveability

REI Half Dome SL 2+

  • Hubbed, Color-Coded Pole Assembly – At the end of a long day you won’t need to guess which pole goes where as this tent uses a color coding system to show you which poles go into which area making setup simple and efficient.
  • REI Exclusive Tension-Truss Architecture – Creates stable vertical sidewalls for generous space and plenty of headroom, along with the pre-bent pole architecture boosts livable space; vertical side walls provide generous head and shoulder room.

The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ backpacking tent has dropped over a pound from its renowned predecessor and is ideal for two people who appreciate some extra breathing room, simple setup, and a-spot-for-it-all storage.

The REI Co-op Half Dome 2+ backpacking tent is a Superlight (SL) construction that withstands 3-season weather and doesn’t skimp on the essential Half Dome features (3 lbs. 15 oz.).

The tent features mesh panels in the top portion of the tent that improves ventilation and views, while ripstop panels in the lower half keep you private, prevent drafts, and shield you from flying dust and dirt.


Best for Double Wall Superior Interior Space

Dan Durston X-Mid 2P

  • The FASTEST tent to pitch available on the market, my favorite tent for my outdoor trips!
  • Incredibly spacious interior due to the unique outer and inner construction being a parallelogram instead of just squared off allowing much taller people to fit!

The X-Mid 2P pitches with as little as 2 trekking poles and 4 stakes, this makes it incredibly simple to pitch and get you ready to relax in comfort.

The X-Mid is a robust, roomy, and stormworthy boat, while anything lighter is smaller, less functional, and/or uses less durable materials.

The X-Mid 1 is roomy, simple to set up, and stormworthy for only 2.5 lbs (40oz / 1135 g). It performs well in the rain thanks to a fly-first pitch, full double-wall construction, no-sag poly fabric, large adjustable vents, factory seam taping, a full-coverage fly.

Unlike most trekking pole tents, the X-Mid features a straightforward 4 stake pitch that doesn’t require any guylines, struts, or measuring pole heights. With huge doorways that aren’t obstructed by poles and simple one-handed zipper operation, the user-friendliness continues after setup.


Best Value-Option Hybrid Single Wall Tent

REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent

  • The poles of the almost 90° hubbed roof provide more headroom and space.
  • The fly/vestibule protects your stuff in bad weather and then rolls up over the roof when nice outside it allows for stargazing or a large awning.

A hybrid single-wall design exposes the tent interior more directly to condensation, as with any other single-wall tent which means there is always some level of condensation.

If you leave out the two vertical poles and utilize your trekking poles instead, it weighs 1 lb. 15 oz. Making it a very strong pick as a thru-hiking value choice.

This tent offers plenty of room for a tent that is only 2 pounds and has two doors and vestibules to stretch out in. It’s windproof and waterproof in adverse conditions.


Best Polyester Budget Tent

Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout

  • Offset Poles – The Scout uses a slightly offset pole setup. The use of this offset yields extra head room when lying down, reducing that claustrophobic feeling.
  • Hybrid Double Wall – The mesh wall is between you and the wet canopy. Is good for two things. It lets the vestibules roll back when it is warm out in summer. And bugs stay outside when it is cold out in winter, but you can still see outside at night.

Investing in ultralight equipment may almost put you out of house and home. That’s why the Skyscape Scout was created so that everyone can enjoy nature comfortably in light gear. The Scout has the same style as the popular Skyscape Trekker, but it is made with a more cost-effective 190T Polyester cloth.

To build an A-frame-like structure, all Skyscape models make use of a pair of 45″ or 115 cm fixed-length pole supports to create an A-frame-type construction that may be done with trekking poles.

Please Note: These shelters are made of 190T Polyurethane coated polyester that requires Gear Aid’s Seam Grip Plus FC to seam seal.


Best New Budget Option

OneTigris Tangram

  • Rugged Durability – 75D Ripstop Nylon of ruggedly durability with 1500mm waterproof rating
  • Lightweight, easy to set up, compact to store/transport outdoor shelter.

The most popular blanket is the TANGRAM, which is designed to resemble a typical cabin’s peaked roof and is constructed of 75D Ripstop nylon to protect campers from the sun and rain.

This tent provides excellent airflow and is easily set up with two trekking poles and guy-lines supplied. Two sides are accessible via the two doors, which opens to double access on all four sides.

It’s extremely lightweight at 3.9 pounds (1811 grams) and is ideal for hikers who want a small, light shelter that is easily stored and transported, doesn’t require a tent pole frame that takes longer to set up, and has enough space for a thru-hiker to spread out in camp.


Best Freestanding Budget Tent

Naturehike Mongar 2

  • EXTRA VESTIBULES – The Mongar 2-person tent has two doors on each side for easy access. The vestibules provide more storage space than traditional 2-person tents; Each of the vestibules can be fully or partially closed for optimum air circulation and sun protection.
  • EASY & FAST SETUP – Naturehike’s tents have a simple instruction booklet included. The tent’s installation instructions are stitched inside the stuff bag. Mongar’s Y-frame design makes set up incredibly simple and quick. A person’s first usage of Mongar tent takes around 5 minutes to complete.

The Naturehike Mongar 3-season, 2-person backpacking tent is recognized for its extremely lightweight and space-saving design. The whole set weighs just 4 lbs, along with a packed size of 19.6 x 5.9 x 5.9 in.

Naturehike offers a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee; and a one-year limited warranty for quality concerns. Customer happiness is important to Naturehike.


How to Choose a Tent for Your Thru-Hike

When you are deciding on what tent will work best for your thru-hike you have many things to consider all before making your important purchase, each item can be a make or break for you and your enjoyment while out on the trail.

For some this is going to be based on how it can fit in a backpack, others will worry about the weight as the highest importance. Some will gravitate towards freestanding tents over trekking pole-style tents, others may care more about the space or materials.

This is all why you want to understand all the factors and which ones will be the most important to you and your choice. Let’s jump into each and give you some information on what they are and why they would matter.

Tent Setup

There are three main types of tents that someone will have, freestanding, semi-freestanding, and trekking pole tents. Each of these has some pros and cons but people are typically more comfortable with one of the three.

Types of Tents:

Freestanding – These tents require no tent stakes with the tent body and the rainfly ending along the tent body or the tent poles, there are not many options available in this type for backpacking use. Can be adjusted easily as you can pick up and move the entire tent without removing tent stakes for optimum camp placing.

Semi-Freestanding – Very similar to the above tents but you have tent stakes which are used to tighten up the rainfly and give full protection to the tent and vestibule area. This can be easier to move around the camp area for best placement unlike the next option below.

Trekking Pole – This tent uses your trekking poles to stand upright, it has no ability to remain upright without the framework the trekking poles provide. This also makes re-adjusting and moving the tent a full breakdown and re-setup as the entirety of the tent is staked out to maintain shape.

Seasonality

As to seasonality, this will depend on when your majority of trips occur, there are a few options which are three-season, three-plus season, and four-season. Choosing which will fit your needs and the weather you will expect will change the way it holds heat and breathes.

Three Season

This style of tent will often feature a rainfly made of solid material and an inner tent material which will be made from a no-see-um mesh, this allows you the most airflow possible which is very important when camping in warmer temperatures.

Three-Plus Season

Similar to the above tent but the walls will typically be a mix of solid material to block out some airflow but the rest are made from no-see-um mesh to allow some airflow to continue through.

Four Season

This tent style will have solid walls both inside and outside, this will block out nearly all breezes and will help conserve warmth non-stop in all weather. This can be critical in winter but also if you hike up high into mountains where severe cold is typical, not always just snow or inclement weather.

Livable AKA Internal Living Space and Capacity

While you live out on the trail you will want to have a space you can retreat to for some peace and quiet at times, for some people this space can be near cocoon-like and small and cramped, for others they need the biggest space they are willing to carry.

Key Specs To Think About:

  • Floor Dimensions – The length and width measurements give a general indication of the floor surface size. Many tents do not have completely rectangular floors, so you may see measurements like 85″ x 51″ / 43″ (L x W head/foot). A tapered floor provides shoulder and arm room while also saving weight by having a smaller foot.
  • Floor Area – This figure measures the total floor space in square feet. While this number is useful for comparing tents, it isn’t a reliable metric when measuring how well the area is utilized.
  • Peak Height – When you sit up, no one wants to bang their head. However, peak height is measured at a single point, so don’t rely on this metric alone to assess overall clearance. Your personal test pitch and validation is a far superior method of determining overall space.
  • Wall Angles and Shape – This is a far more significant aspect of tent livability than peak height. The higher the walls are, the more open the interior of the tent will feel. If you can’t go to a store to test pitch tents, look at the pitch of a tent’s walls in online photos.

Tent Weight

The weight of your tent is important as part of the big three it is one of your core areas to drop weight from your overall base weight. So you will want to look into the specific keys below as to tent specs that you should see how you align with and are willing to carry.

Understanding Tent Specs:

  • Minimum trail weight – The total weight of the tent body, rainfly, and poles (the bare necessities). You will probably add more tent-related items like stakes, and a footprint, but this is the best spec level for an overall comparison.
  • Packaged weight – This is the total weight of all the components included in a purchase: body, rainfly, poles, stakes, stuff sack pole sack, instructions, and other items. The combined weight you’ll carry on the trek will be between this and the minimum trail weight listed above.
  • Packed size – The amount of room a tent takes up in your backpack also has to do with how easy it is to manage in a pack. For couples, you can look to decrease the amount of space needed by separating components and having your spouse take only the poles and rainfly, for example.

Materials

There are many materials used to make tents, some provide more water resistance, others provide better costs. Let’s take a few minutes and discuss the three most common materials used in making tents:

  • Dyneema or DCF – First discvered on sailboats this fabric has amazing abilities like the ability to withstand water, incredibly lightweight, and pretty durable which makes it good for tents but it comes at a solid premium in the costs.
  • Sil-Nylon – The most common fabric used for backpacking tents, solid and dependable, the only large downside is that it abosorbs water over time and due to this it can sag and need to be tightened up after initial setup.
  • Sil-Poly – Very similar to Sil-Nylon above but doesn’t absorb water so once setup you won’t have to worry about sagging from water absorbtion, though from my understanding this fabric is a little more expensive it is near in-line with Sil-Nylon.

How the Tent Fits in Your Backpack

This may be fairly small to some but how you want to load your backpack is important and some tents can be very tall when in their sack. This can be an issue if you prefer to put your tent horizontally, as is my preference, as this allows for a simple stacking of gear.

Common Tent Thru-Hiker Issues

FAQ About Tents for Thru-Hiking