Camping is about unwinding from the chaos of the city and basking in the beauty of the natural world.
Unfortunately for many of us, the dream of outdoor bliss can be hindered by our finances.
Making an escape into the wilderness can put a major dent in your bank account – but the truth is – it doesn’t have to.
You don’t always need the most expensive gear on the market or the newest wilderness gadget.
Trouble is – finding the right balance between camping luxuriously and ‘roughing it’ in the ever-changing elements can be tricky at best.
That’s why I compiled a simple guide and a few recommendations for some budget tents that may fit you, and your partner’s needs in this list of best 2-person tents under $100.
The Best 2 Person Tents Under 100 Dollars
But first a disclaimer – When we first put this list together all three options were under $100. Two of them are currently just over that and are around $120 which is still a great value for the quality of tents they are.
Best Bargain Tent: Coleman Sundome 2
If budget tents had an industry standard, it would be the Coleman Sundome.
While it may not be as durable or versatile as some of other sub-$100 alternatives, this bargain shelter doesn’t skimp on overall quality.
he Coleman brand is world-renowned for it’s variety of outdoor products, and with nearly 120 years of excellence, they have crafted the perfect low-cost tent.
The Sundome 2 boasts a powerful ventilation system, including a ground vent to help move the air.
For maximum waterproofing, Coleman uses their Weathertec-patented welded floors and inverted protected seams.
The setup is simple with a continuous sleeve for the poles, rather than pesky clip attachments.
The 2-person option only has a 7’ x 5’ floor and a dome structure that can sometimes feel cramped.
Luckily, if you prefer interior space, Coleman also offers the Sundome in more spacious 4- and 6-person sizes, both for a decent price.
The shelter is heavy and and there are no vestibules, so it’s not the best alternative for hikers.
But, if you simply want to enjoy a weekend in the woods on a budget, the Sundome may be your best option.
Best for Car Camping: ALPS Mountaineering Meramac
Most car campers prefer livability and durability over weight and packability; the spacious Meramac embodies those qualities.
While the 2-person comes in right around $100, I suggest for normal car camping you invest in the similarly priced 4-person version.
The roomy interior offers a 8’6” x 7’6” floor area with a five-foot peak ceiling height, giving you plenty of room for games and activities.
Although the Meramac 4 comes in at nearly 12 lbs., the extra weight allows it to withstand stronger conditions.
The combination of mesh panels and urethane-coated polyester rain fly will keep the shelter dry, both inside and out.
With dual-doors and ample storage, it’s an ideal alternative for any couple who just wants to escape into the outdoors.
Best for Backpacking: Featherstone Outdoor UL Granite 2P
Ok so this choice is slightly above our 100 dollar cut-off but it is ideal for campers looking to dip their toes in the waters of the backpacking world.
The Featherstone Outdoor UL Granite offers many of the same features of it’s much more expensive alternatives.
As a brand, Featherstone is a relative unknown among our backpacking campers.
In this case, that could be a blessing.
What you’re getting is a near carbon copy of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2, without the MSR price premium.
This tent is tough.
Based on materials and construction, you could easily confuse the Granite with a tent three times its price.
The aluminum poles, nylon rainfly and mesh feel like they can take a decent beating.
This in addition to taped seams, the included footprint and a bathtub floor design will give you a fighting chance against all but the worst wet weather nightmare.
Without the footprint the tent weighs 3.8 lbs.
If you replace the standard stakes with lightweight ones and the included footprint with a Tyvek sheet, you’ll end up with a trailweight smaller than MSR’s comparable tents.
Since it’s an ultralight model, the Granite isn’t the most spacious tent on the market.
Also, the vestibules don’t go all the way to the ground. Keep that in mind if you’re camping in a sandy and windy area.
Overall, the Featherstone Outdoor UL Granite is a beginner backpacker’s dream.
Rather than dropping $400 on an ultralight carbon fiber tent and having it sit in your closet forever, you can learn the ropes of the trail by spending less than $150 on the 3.8 lb Granite.
Comparing Budget Tents
If you truly want to purchase a long-lasting outdoor oasis, you need to ensure that the tent fits your demands, not that you fit the tent’s demands.
It’s important to look into exactly what to expect from each feature when buying a budget tent.
Sure, a cozy 2-person tent might be enough for you and your partner this time, but what about your camping trips in the future?
Maybe there will be some (two- or four-legged) little ones tagging along?
A tent is not only a protective shelter, but it’s your home away from home.
That’s why it’s imperative that you plan your purchase to not only fit your nearest upcoming excursion, but to fit all your future adventures.
Don’t Miss: Best Budget Sleeping Bags
Surprisingly enough, you typically don’t have to sacrifice comfort for price when it comes to tents.
There are several inexpensive, spacious alternatives in the tent world.
In fact, there seems to be a slight indirect correlation between price and floor area.
The more expensive the tent, the smaller the amount of floor space.
Why? Simply put – many of the higher-end shelters are made for backpacking.
They’re designed to be light and take less ground space to pitch, since they tend to be used in the dense backcountry.
If have no plans on trekking up into the snowy mountains for a weekend getaway, there’s no need to purchase an expensive, thick-walled, four-season tent.
Most likely, you will want to invest in a 3-season, double-walled shelter to ensure that you remain dry and warm in the outdoors.
Related: Best 4 Season Tents
This can be a major issue with sub-$100 tents.
Many are poorly manufactured, and one loose seam could lead to a major headache.
Adequate protection from the environment should be your primary concern.
Pitching a tent may not be as difficult as struggling to assemble an IKEA dresser, but it still can be disheartening.
Most shelters today have a free-standing pole design, but there are still some self-supported options available for those of you that want to rig-up a shelter like a wilderness expert.
Consider the ease of setup while researching your outdoor home.
For budget tents, the pitching difficulty varies from piece of cake to solving a Rubik’s Cube one-handed.
Many of these shelters lack the extra features that their expensive counterparts possess (vestibules, vents, windows, etc.), so they may be easier to setup.
In some other cases, the cheaper price can lead to more parts, more connections, and more frustration.
Keep in mind that you ventured into nature to bask in it’s tranquility, not to grow gray hairs from setting up your shelter.
Security means something different to everyone, yet in this case, I’m talking about being secure and safe from the elements.
Typically, the more dependable the material, the more expensive the shelter can be.
This means that the lower-cost tents may have poor fabric, leading to less water and wind protection.
Also, the pole supports may be made of cheaper materials, potentially causing them to snap or collapse under the pressures of the elements.
Money, money, money. Despite all the protective features of a tent, it all comes down to the final cost.
Which is why you’re reading this article, right?
Again, there are going to be sacrifices that you will have to make to remain inside your budget, but try not to let price dictate use.
Finally, remember that affordability doesn’t exactly translate to a tent’s true value.
Every product is what you make of it, so even more expensive shelters can be perceived as affordable if you utilize them correctly.
Wrapping It Up…
Your camping experience is what you make of it, so don’t get bullied into purchasing an expensive shelter if a simple sub-$100 budget tent satisfies all of your requirements.
Focus on the ‘Five S’ method tp link for each product to ensure that you know which features have been sacrificed for a lower advertised cost.
You’ll then be able to buy a tent that doesn’t break the bank.
Finally you can unleash your outdoor passion. On a budget.