The Best Cheap Tents

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What to Look For

Cheap tents are sometimes viewed as inferior in quality, but it’s possible to find tents of a good quality for not a lot of money. The first thing you need to decide is how many people the tent must fit. Tents are available in sizes from one through four people as well as for larger families of up to 10 people or more. You also need to look for tents that fit the shape needed, be it a dome tent or a wall tent. You’ll also find family-sized tents known as cabin tents. These tents feature removable dividers, which create multiple rooms inside the tent.

Common Pitfalls

Quality is the most important problem you’ll find when shopping for cheap tents. The cheapest tents may be slightly inferior to more expensive tents. If you examine the tents first, you’ll ensure that you buy the best quality. Cheaper tents lack protection from the rain, which causes leaking and damage to the inside of the tent from the water. Check the seams of the tent when shopping as well. If the tent doesn’t have quality seaming, you’ll likely experience breaking and tearing of the canvas. You may also have problems with the zippers coming loose.

Where to Buy

Most big-box stores and lower-end department stores, including Target, Kmart and Wal-Mart, offer cheap tents. These include both cabin and dome tents. Shopping in the stores gives you the chance to look at the shape of the tent and see what it looks like put together, as many stores offer miniature examples of the tents. You also have the option of examining the seams and zippers on the tent. Shopping online from sporting goods store is another option. The stores have a wider selection of tents, and discontinued models are even cheaper. Try shopping at the end of the summer season, when stores start selling tents at clearance prices.


Cheap tents are priced at less than $100, based on 2010 pricing. The more recognizable camping equipment and tent manufacturers, including Eureka and Coleman, sell tents for much more than this, especially family-sized tents. The size of the tent often relates to the tent’s price. Larger tents that sleep four to six people or more are more expensive than tents for one or two people. This includes the tents sold at big-box stores. These stores often sell cheap tents under its own brand name.

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Photo Credits

  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images