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Difference between cheap tent and an expensive one?

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Difference between cheap tent and an expensive one?

Old 05-29-19, 02:05 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I take a day off and stay at the same site for two nights, my tent is not coming down just to save it from some UV. It is staying exactly where I put it in the first place.

In hotter weather I often look for a shady spot that is flat enough for shade for the rest of the day, but that is because of my personal comfort, not the tent.
I have been known to take a minute or three to take my panniers and sleeping bag out, unstake and move my tent to a much nicer, cooler shady spot--for both me and tent, if easy to do.
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Old 05-29-19, 04:04 PM
  #52  
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Northern Japan, I'll actually get the compass out to work out where the @##$ sun is gonna come up, so I can pitch the tent in the morning shade, means it sometimes sits out in the middle of the campground. You see all the other campers putting their tents up in the afternoon shade, poor buggers. Getting cooked out of your tent at 6am sucks.
That tent and gear Solarproof I mentioned above does work, and also increases the water repellency a heap, so is great for old tents that wet out,wetting out increases condensation on the inside of the fly. Easy to apply too.
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Old 05-29-19, 07:01 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
This.
Other advice. Worthwhile maintaining a good tent if it's heavily used., UV kills tents. Using something like Nikwax Tent and Gear Solar Proof as a sacrificial coating. 3 months use will see a tent fading.
Thanks for the tip...suncreen for tents! Does it go on the fly too?

Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
We have given our Eureka 4-season tent some hard use in really harsh conditions. It has always be reliable, and is a good value.

After a 90 day that looks so refreshing. Challenging too, wow. Next season I gotta take a couple lessons so I can handle moguls.
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Old 05-29-19, 07:15 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Thanks for the tip...suncreen for tents! Does it go on the fly too?



After a 90 day that looks so refreshing. Challenging too, wow. Next season I gotta take a couple lessons so I can handle moguls.
on the fly, on the outside of the floor and on the footprint. Can do the inner as well, makes it water resistant. Well the non mesh bits anyway. Every Nikwax product I've used does what it says on the tin.
I use my gear hard, but maintain it too...
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Old 05-29-19, 07:27 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
on the fly, on the outside of the floor and on the footprint. Can do the inner as well, makes it water resistant. Well the non mesh bits anyway. Every Nikwax product I've used does what it says on the tin.
I use my gear hard, but maintain it too...
This winter I splurged on Nikwax stuff, washed the jackets & ski pants etc with the DWP stuff plus did the DWP spray; base layer refresh on the undies. A bit pricey but yes, it all seems to work so it's much cheaper than buying new garments.
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Old 05-30-19, 11:24 AM
  #56  
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An expensive, well designed , tent will survive in very windy conditions that will tear a cheap tent apart..
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Old 05-31-19, 04:27 AM
  #57  
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Had a Hilleberg. Leaked at the corners from day one. The fabric they use sags in heavy rain. The only good thing I can say about the company is they fairly gave me a refund after pretending the leaks were condensation.
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Old 05-31-19, 02:03 PM
  #58  
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I'll offer some of my tent experiences for whatever it's worth. I've owned 4 tents.

-First was a two man canvas army surplus up tent with a Coleman livingroom 'sleepover' type of sleeping bag (cloth exterior and pillow like stuffing). I'd run away from home as a teenager. Rain defeated the tent and soaked the sleeping bag ... my first lesson in being unprepared for the elements. After living wet for a bit I reevaluated the usefulness of shelter, independence, and a roof over my head.

-Next was a Eureka Timberline two man tent ('A' frame) ... not an el cheapo throw away tent but rather an entry level real tent. It was modestly priced and one of my first pieces of 'real' backpacking/camping gear (along with CampTrails external frame backpack, Coleman Peak1 stove, and Vasque hiking boots). I backpacked with the tent, used it for weekend trips, and used it on my long climbing trips as a basecamp shelter. I lost the rainfly at some point and replaced it. Sometime in the last third/quarter of its life the floor started leaking because the water proofing had failed (poor storage? wear & tear? wrong cleaning products?) and I tried treating it with an aftermarket product but the damage was done. I'd make sure I was carefully positioned on my sleeping pad like a life raft, and that my gear was protected, to avoid puddles of water on the floor in heavy rain. (It's possible that my washing it had contributed to the leaking and thereafter I've been cautious about damaging gear by washing: I think more damage can be done by carelessly washing gear than just leaving it dirty ... this holds for tents, packs, sleeping bags, and outerwear ... know your chemistry). I';d always used it with a groundcloth.
The tent died in the Utah desert during a sandstorm. Strong wind and sand. At dusk one could see a column of red sand about 30 feet off the ground in all directions and above that clear sky. I retreated to a friends pickup truck when it was no longer possible to conduct our conversation outside due to sand blowing in our mouths. Not possible to eat without a mouthful of crunching gritty sand between the teeth. Sand in ears. Sand in eyes. Sand everywhere. Red sand managed to find its way inside the (newish) truck's cab and dusted the entire interior, dashboard, and seat. After the inside-pickup-truck hang mode ended I set my tent up and retired for the night. I woke up in the morning to a clear blue skies, sunshine, and sound of flapping nylon on a gusty windy day... a deep drift of red sand had blown inside the tent and partially buried me. Somehow I'd slept through it. It had been so windy during the night I'd blocked out the noise. The tent however was irreparably ripped apart and shreds of nylon were wildly flapping and snapping in the wind. That was the bitter end of the Eureka Timberline. It had served me well for 23 years!

-Knowing what it is to live with a leaking tent, and due to spending longer periods base camping and in diverse conditions, my next tent was a premium two man, 4 season Goretex single wall tent (to reduce weight, but still heavier than its predecessor). Double entrance. Big vestibule for gear. Mesh pockets and gear loft. Plenty of headroom (the Eureka was limited in that regard). This was a huge step up in comfort. I wasn't doing backpacking at the time so the carry weight wasn't an issue. An early season storm during it's maiden voyage saw a torrential deluge of rain for many days on end, the ground became alive with water and rivers appeared throughout the campground. Campers built makeshift gullies, dams, and berms to redirect water around their tents. Many tents had quickly flowing water underneath them. Qualities that were optional in lesser conditions such as well implemented water proofing, seam sealing, and bathtub floors ... now became front and center. The ill prepared were forced to bail out ... or grovel with sopping wet gear. For the 1st time in my life I could return to my tent at day's end knowing that all of my gear inside would be bone dry and I'd sleep cozy, snug as a bug in a rug. This sort of shelter dependability was a game changer ... I no longer had to bear the burden of worry during the day about what I'd encounter at night when I unzipped and crawled through the tent's door. After about a week of cold rain it finally ended. It was replaced by the snow. Cheap tents, lightweight tents, and 3 season tents all struggled greatly or failed miserably. Collapsed and abandoned tents were everywhere (many tents with poor designs and/or cheap poles had simply spiraled down under the weight of the snow and flattened like pancakes in a manner not dissimilar to the demise of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz). The campground became a tent graveyard. Sad nylon flattened out and covered in mud, ripped tents, tents completely abandoned, dirty wet towels, muddy clothing, forlorn detritus. The tent stood proud. No matter what the weather conditions during the day, no matter the continual freaked distress of other campers' uncertain fates trying to come to terms with their predicaments and trying to plot their possible escape (roads unfortunately closed due to snow), I'd return to my dry tent for a sound night's sleep. This was a game changer. I've since had occasion to see many tents destroyed by wind or snow, usually by a sudden unexpected change in weather conditions.
I was once on foot alone about an hour by high clearance car from the nearest town when an unexpected blizzard came. About a foot of snow dumped and temps at about 0 F and high winds. I'd heard on the news later a couple had frozen to death overnight in their pickup. I was stranded incommunicado. Snow piled high on top of the tent. The tent stood proud. Again, a game changer. Btw, I'd bought the tent used in great condition. The zippers gave me some problems after I'd had it for several years (sand?) and the manufacturer - albeit reluctantly - replaced the entire tent under warranty including a new vestibule (as they had changed the design slightly and the old vestibule no longer fit). I'd got it 15 years ago and have spent at least a year of my life sleeping inside it and out has many many more years of service. In the desert for long dig-ins I put a tarp over it to protect it UV. Having a tent that can provide reliable shelter in all weather conditions is a game changer. An iron clad warranty is of serious value. It's commonplace to observe folks struggling with or cursing their shelters. If you use it, gear of excellent quality is worth the price: if you have the time, patience, and determination great deals can be found.

-Recently I obtained a used 2 man tent considered the gold standard of it's class for ultralight through-hike backpacking. I've only set it up and have not yet slept in it. The 4 season tent above weights approx. 6lbs-8lbs depending on how I configure it. This one weights a little over a pound (not including a pair of trekking poles used to erect it)... it is masterfully designed and mind blowing lightweight. I've never bike toured but this is the tent I'd take. It's a camo pattern so is perfect for stealth camping. (I dislike bright tents). It will not handle extreme conditions like the 4-season tent above but from all accounts it can hold its own in wind, rain, and perhaps very light snowfall. For decades I've gone with burlier, heavier, more fully featured gear that can take a beating year after year and still reliably perform; going ultralight is a game changer. This ultralight gear is made of expensive fabric, but it's more delicate (although easily repaired in the field, a great quality), is not designed to yield as long a useful life as heavier tents, and therefor requires more careful use and campsite selection.

I've seen plenty of people with the $29 dollar Walmart tent or their equivalent and they work fine as long as the weather isn't too challenging, but of course they will not last as long as better made tents due to cheaper materials as well as inferior design and construction. Don't underestimate the effects of wind. If the weather seriously craps the bed all bets are off as these tents become undependable and will most likely fail... I've seen plenty of these tents zapped. If you only expect casual usage, and/or in better weather, and/or have a workable backup plan for when serious weather arrives (ex. bailing out to a hotel) a cheap tent may be a viable option. (I have no info on this, but it may be possible to carefully attach additional guy lines on a cheap tent or otherwise modify it by beefing up guy line attachment points or adding adding ones to make it a little more burly? An large inexpensive tarp from a hardware store might be able to be staked down over the tent to possible yield additional rain if more intense weather is expected? But at a certain point it makes more sense to put ones resources into a higher grade tent which incorporates these features). Otherwise it can serve you well, just don't push it beyond its capabilities and then expect to trust your life to it.


Knowing how to select a camp site to position your tent that yields better protection from weather and environmental conditions, knowing how to correctly stake out your particular tent, and use of enough stakes of adequate design for ground conditions and expected weather all play a role in getting the most out of any particular tent.

Last edited by Lovegasoline; 05-31-19 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 05-31-19, 05:03 PM
  #59  
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I have used several tents over the years and have done well with cheap ones. As someone mentioned, wind protection mostly has to do with how well you stake a tent down if you have a full fly.

My first was an old A frame two man pup tent that worked great but was a bit heavy and required a lot of staking. I eventually gave the inner to my brother to use with a tarp but kept the sil nylon fly.

The second was a pretty pricey 2 man dome tent for climbing. It was good, but still heavy (ish) and cramped for two as it was a small circle - say "cosy two".

Next was an actual $29 free standing Canadian Tire tent. The fly was small for rain and wind but ok for summer use. It was super simple and suprisingly light after I upgraded the fiberglass poles for Al ones that cost $50 at MEC. That made a big weight difference.

I recycled my first tents 30 Y/O nylon fly for better rain coverage and to include my bike underneath for theft protection. The bike acted like a tent pole and I could see it clearly through through the mesh. It looks crazy but when I don't care about the bigger size/weight it makes an excellent base. The fly gives full coverage and if staked good wind protection.











Then I decided to go lighter still and last year bought a 1 man North Face Stormbreak 1 tent on sale for $129 (regular $160-170). Very light if you take all the unneccessary doo dads off, super easy to set up, a good fly and small (3'x7'). To get good rain coverage you need two stakes, full wind 4.


Last edited by Happy Feet; 05-31-19 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 06-07-20, 07:13 AM
  #60  
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I love the north face stormbreak! i think the main differences between a cheap and an expensive tent are usually weight and quality. but i think that "expensive" is kind of extreme. tents like hilleberg aren't necessary for MOST people. and a GOOD quality tent isn't really expensive at all. you can get a really good tent for $150-$200, it will just be heavier than more expensive ones.
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Old 06-08-20, 05:29 AM
  #61  
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One thing that's often overlooked and not all that relevant to some is size and space. There's not that many spacious tent offerings in the budget side of things, or if there are they are heavy as sin. You put together a proper tunnel tent from PU coated high denier polyester and the end result can weight somewhere north of 5-6 kg (11-13lbs).

Our first tent was a three person dome that cost around 250 € at the time. Night indestructible but really small for me and our stuff. I'm 6'5" and so almost all dome tents are way too small for me. Because even if the inner tent is say, 225cm long, you need to factor in that the front and back walls of a dome tent are inclined which eats a lot of that length. Then factor in the added height of the sleeping pad and the length shrinks further. This resulted in me brushing the tent wall with my toes/head even with the largest hiking dome tent I could find and test which always left the foot end of my sleeping bag soaked wet even on relatively dry nights.

So wanting to get away from wet feet and a constantly wet sleeping bag we bought a 700 € tunnel tent which had a 225cm inner tent length BUT one of the walls is straight! No incline means I have oodles more space. Haven't noticed wet feet for a long time now. The other positive side tunnel tents have is the large anteroom area which works well for storing gear out of the rain as well as some extra space to move around, change clothes etc. Some crazy finns / scandinavians even cook in their tents but I honestly haven't dared. I respect fire too much to risk it going badly in a plastic tent.
As an added bonus the tent is made of low denier silicon coated polyester meaning that while it's a bit heavier than an equivalent nylon tent, it does not degrade with UV-rays. It still weighs less than our original cheap dome.
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Old 06-08-20, 08:45 AM
  #62  
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Cheap tents wont survive the zombie thread apocalypse.
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Old 06-08-20, 10:20 AM
  #63  
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Last year I had to purchase an extra tent for occasional use when a friend or family member would join us on tour. I picked up a Kelty Salida 2 for $100. Weighs in right at 4 lbs for a touch over 30 sq. ft of floor space and seems well built. The Nemo Dagger 2 tent that I'm currently using is definitely not 3-4X times more tent than the Kelty but it was 3X the cost.

Last edited by robow; 06-08-20 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 06-08-20, 11:19 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by awesomejack View Post
Like a $30 tent and a $200 from REI or any other multi hundred dollar tent.

Ruggedness? Waterproofness? ability to not form condensation?
1. Weight - the $200 will be lighter and pack into a smaller size
2 Quality of poles - easily rectifiable with a $15 set to poles at Amazon or store

That's about it, with a $200 tent, you are paying $130 markup for the name on the tent. You can buy a high quality tent like a 3F tent for 1/3rd the price of a name brand with the same exact construction.

Both tents will keep you dry. I did my last tour using an Ozark Trails tent, never had a problem.
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Old 06-08-20, 01:33 PM
  #65  
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If you meet someone out touring, an inexpensive tent will be a huge turn off. She’ll think you are a cheap bastard.
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Old 06-08-20, 08:55 PM
  #66  
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You stay dry in the expensive one!
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Old 06-08-20, 11:21 PM
  #67  
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There is some truth to the "staying dry" point.

A lot of it comes down to design and materials.

A cheap dome tent with a fly over the top vent area only, single wall the rest of the way down, is not going to keep you dry. There may be a better quality dome tent with better quality material than what you will find at Walmart, but it will cost you.

Then you get in to the differences between 3 season and 4 season tents. Most "3 season" tents, in my book, are "1 season" tents - warm weather only - and are nothing more than a bug net "tent" covered by a rain fly, if you so choose to put it on and not sleep directly under the stars. All that mesh doesn't do much to insulate when you are in cooler weather.

4 season tents have no mesh except for window/vent openings. These are true double-wall tents where you have a solid tent and a weatherproof rain fly on the outside.

The main tent I have is a Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead 2 that is about 10 years old. It is a very unique tent in that it is a true double wall tent - if you zip in all the paneling. It was marketed as a 3 season tent, but with the zip in panels it is as good as a 4 season tent in the cold (and its been in the appalachians with temps around 0deg F). The drawback to this style tent is that the fabric plus the mesh, for those double areas, does add weight. No two ways about it. The protection and flexibility, though, is a huge gain - a gain not very common in the 3 season tent class.

When you look at "design" - you can look at name brands vs lesser "quality" brands (big box store, general consumer type - like the kind you find in the camping isle at the general store) and gather that a particular design may be similar to a name-brand, but 1/3 the cost. However, material and durability is a factor as well. Higher quality materials are probably going to keep you dry.
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Old 06-09-20, 08:33 AM
  #68  
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The difference? Staying dry. That and at least 2 lbs lighter.
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Old 06-09-20, 08:40 AM
  #69  
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Does anyone have any experience with Vango tents?
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Old 06-10-20, 05:56 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by ChrisWagner View Post
Does anyone have any experience with Vango tents?
I'm afraid Vango has gone toward mass-produced, lower-end models in the last few years. Nothing really wrong with them (except for the ones with fiberglass poles) but certainly nothing exceptional. Terra Nova is a better choice if you like European brands. Hilleberg is also superb. The article here is a good primer for learning what to for and what to ask.

Last edited by Jonathan Hanson; 06-10-20 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 06-11-20, 05:26 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Hanson View Post
I'm afraid Vango has gone toward mass-produced, lower-end models in the last few years. Nothing really wrong with them (except for the ones with fiberglass poles) but certainly nothing exceptional. Terra Nova is a better choice if you like European brands. Hilleberg is also superb. The article here is a good primer for learning what to for and what to ask.
Yeah, it appears Vango currently produces a lot of backyard and festival tents. I found a Vango Hydra 200 with impressive specs but not enough reviews to reach any definitive conclusion. Im in the market for a spring-fall-early winter tent for stealth camping and need a 3-4 pole, 2 person tent that will handle high wind and rain. The Hilleberg Nammatj 2 checks all my boxes except cost. The Terra Nova Trisar 2 architecture is practically the same as the Hydra. I understand lighter material comes at a cost premium and rationalize I wont be backpacking with the tent so the extra weight is acceptable. The 3 tent weights I mentioned are very close with the Trisar coming in 10 ounces lighter. If the Nammatj wins, Ill have to go with the GT variant or have buyers remorse. Decisions.
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