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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 02-16-10, 10:42 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
I was told by a NOLS leader once that the average mid-range tent is designed to last about 75 days before UV damage starts to become a real problem and you need to replace it. Our Hilleberg went for 400 days before we opted to replace it for UV damage reasons. I never could back up the stat from the NOLS leader, but if she was right, the Hilleberg gives 4-5 times the longevity than the average tent.
I wonder if that time estimate is based on high-altitude mountaineering use? I got over 200 days of use out of a $20 discount store tent and it didn't seem to suffer from any UV damage. Finally gave it away to a friend for his kids to use as a backyard play tent.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:55 PM
  #27  
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FWIW-- I also believe you get what you pay for-- up to a point. I generally get the best equipment I can afford, and use it for multiple activities. All tents are compromises in some way. Sometimes a good tent can make all the difference in the world!
This particular tent made it about 15 years in some pretty serious conditions. It is now relegated to car camping. Pictures of same tent, same place, same wife--about 10 years apart.

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Old 02-18-10, 09:41 PM
  #28  
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This is actually the photo I was looking for the other night. Hopefully, we don't hit days like this on bike tours, but it does illustrate the merits of having a good tent. Same tent, different place, same partner.

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Old 05-22-19, 06:37 AM
  #29  
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Hi, I know it's an old thread, just a couple of thoughts from me...

The sub-100 dollar tents are cheaply made, with heavy materials. The poles are heavy, the fabric is heavy, water will come in the seam on the floor, the side, the fly. Most often these are PU coated nylon - PU coatings will degrade and flake away and cannot be renewed, leaving you with a useless tent. Many have partial flys which do nothing in wind-driven precipitation. They are often poorly engineered and collect condensation like they were made to do it.

The more expensive tents are made with better materials, have been better engineered to provide ventilation that fights condensation on the interior without compromising rainproofness, and the poles are not so cheaply made they bend or fall apart within a few uses of the tent. And they will be much, much lighter. You get what you pay for, generally. Some of the $120-160 tents like the Kelty 2 person models are decently made but heavy; spend a little more and knock a pound or two off, you have the REI brand Half Dome or one of the Sierra Designs tents. Spend more yet and you get something like the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 at 3 lbs 4 oz (great weight and weather worthy to boot).

The more often you backpack, the more every pound matters. If you go once in a while and are on a budget, look at REI, Kelty, Sierra Designs, and similarly priced models. Good value for the money.
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Old 05-22-19, 10:36 AM
  #30  
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It’s a long-standing tradition for newbs to resurrect zombie threads, and for people who’ve been here a while to call them out.
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Old 05-22-19, 12:48 PM
  #31  
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NINE YEAR OLD THREAD WARNING

Cheap tents are often false economy - it's money wasted that could have been put towards the inevitable better replacement tent.

https://www.tarptent.com/product/protrail/
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Old 05-24-19, 12:33 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by spyro1123 View Post
Honestly not too many people abuse the policy, but if you let it they can really bug you..
It kind of bugs me, because i think it inflates the prices for everyone. I joined in 1986 and I think I have only returned one or two things, for serious warranty issues. (I've returned unused shoes that didn't fit that I mail-ordered.)

I think REI should adopt a policy of only having X number of returns allowed in a lifetime, or per $1K spent, etc., which might encourage people to save the return privilege for when it is really needed.

As for tents, I've always found REI's own brands to be a very good value.
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Old 05-24-19, 12:36 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
NINE YEAR OLD THREAD WARNING
Unfortunately, I saw this after it was too late.
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Old 05-24-19, 01:55 PM
  #34  
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Ooo, a zombie thread! At least this one is still relevant. I own a higher end tent these days, but it took me a lot of nights in a cheap tent before I got there. There's nothing wrong with a cheap tent. You just have to be OK with the trade-offs. My first touring tent was something like $30. I swapped out the fiberglass poles for AL poles from a nicer tent that I had(bigger, not good for touring). I think the heavy, easily broken fiberglass poles are the one major downfall of a cheap tent. My cheap tent kept me dry on a very rainy first tour. I basically woke up in a waterbed one morning. The tent floor was floating in water. I was dry inside. It was a bit heavier and bulkier than my nice tent, but it got the job done. One thing I would say that contradicts others is that I've found cheaper tents to often be more robust than expensive tents. My cheap tent had a heavy tarp floor. I'm sure I could have skipped using a ground cloth with that thing. Expensive tents are made with thin, light-weight materials. I prefer that when traveling light, but I do have to be more careful with my lighter tent.

My cheap tent was this model, but by a different company, and as mentioned, had basically a regular tarp as the floor. Like a tarp you'd use to cover a pile of firewood, not a backpacking tarp. This one has a thin floor. I noticed some reviews of this one say this floor is not waterproof. Mine definitely was. It lost a couple pounds by swapping out the poles, leaving it at ~3.6lbs or something like that. https://www.amazon.com/Wenzel-Lone-T.../dp/B07CBS6P1F
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Old 05-24-19, 07:24 PM
  #35  
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yes i know, i'm another newb biting on a zombie thread! that out of the way, i always, always, always reply to tent threads with the following:

go get a eureka backpacking tent, and you will never go with another brand. i've taken a lot of flack for this over the years. i DO NOT work for or represent eureka in any way. i have, however, used eurekas for over 30 years or camping in some very rugged and challenging conditions, and through 4 tents they have never let me down. this includes a couple years living and camping through alaska winters with nights down to -30 and waking up to feet of snow trapping me inside.

i have also had my $150 tent out with friends in high class name brand tents and watch them get flooded out, zippers break, seems rip, you name it. the only time one of my eurekas failed me what when it was over 10 years old and well past its prime.

so, because they have never let me down, and because a lot of "real outdoors people" look down their noses at eureka, i make it a point to go out of my way to vocally support them.



don't mind the ex girlfriend, as the tent has lasted longer! chena hotsprings outside of fairbanks a few years back.
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Old 05-24-19, 09:42 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by travgott View Post
yes i know, i'm another newb biting on a zombie thread! that out of the way, i always, always, always reply to tent threads with the following:

go get a eureka backpacking tent, and you will never go with another brand. i've taken a lot of flack for this over the years. i DO NOT work for or represent eureka in any way. i have, however, used eurekas for over 30 years or camping in some very rugged and challenging conditions, and through 4 tents they have never let me down. this includes a couple years living and camping through alaska winters with nights down to -30 and waking up to feet of snow trapping me inside.
I got a 3-person low-priced Eureka tent some years back, free from a friend that wasn't using it. Later I looked up the specs, weight was as low as many similar higher-priced tents.
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Old 05-25-19, 03:17 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
I got a 3-person low-priced Eureka tent some years back, free from a friend that wasn't using it. Later I looked up the specs, weight was as low as many similar higher-priced tents.
yeah, the weight is somewhat close to the more expensive brands. maybe slightly heavier, but realistically, as we all know, if you are backpacking or bikepacking a lot of times your tent is wet in the bag on some days so the weight savings is negligable imho. plus im not a weight weenie so i don't trifle over such matters. somebody a long time ago in this thread mentioned difference in poles, but the eurekas have always had good aluminum poles with them. and i've never had a bungee fail in a pole or had one bend for no reason.

i think a lot of the reason cheap tents get a bad rap is that the people who buy them typically dont have a lot of experience, and as a result don't treat their tent with the proper care. thus, when they pull it out of the bag the second or third time there are mildew spots, or something is ripped or broken. then they go onto the wallyworld website and leave a crap review. folks who drop a lot of money on a tent tend to look after it better so of course they report that they last longer. but it seems that for the most part my eurekas have been constructed with the same materials and quality construction of high-end brands, so it stands to reason that with proper care they would perform as well and last as long. also i always dry my tent out and clean thoroughly after any trip.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:04 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by travgott View Post
yeah, the weight is somewhat close to the more expensive brands. maybe slightly heavier, but realistically, as we all know, if you are backpacking or bikepacking a lot of times your tent is wet in the bag on some days so the weight savings is negligable imho. plus im not a weight weenie so i don't trifle over such matters. somebody a long time ago in this thread mentioned difference in poles, but the eurekas have always had good aluminum poles with them. and i've never had a bungee fail in a pole or had one bend for no reason.

i think a lot of the reason cheap tents get a bad rap is that the people who buy them typically dont have a lot of experience, and as a result don't treat their tent with the proper care. thus, when they pull it out of the bag the second or third time there are mildew spots, or something is ripped or broken. then they go onto the wallyworld website and leave a crap review. folks who drop a lot of money on a tent tend to look after it better so of course they report that they last longer. but it seems that for the most part my eurekas have been constructed with the same materials and quality construction of high-end brands, so it stands to reason that with proper care they would perform as well and last as long. also i always dry my tent out and clean thoroughly after any trip.
Some years back I was surprised to learn that nylon degrades significantly with UV exposure, not that I tour enough to wear a tent out that way. Another thing about tents is that there's so many different features, it's not as if paying more automatically checks off all the boxes. IE free-standing vs staked for one. The Eureka I mentioned was semi-stealth olive drab. Many of the fancier tents are brightly colored which makes sense for back-country backpacking but not great for stealth-camping bike tourists.
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Old 05-28-19, 11:17 PM
  #39  
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We have given our Eureka 4-season tent some hard use in really harsh conditions. It has always been reliable, and is a good value. Eureka, like most manufacturers have tents in a range of costs and quality.






Last edited by Doug64; 05-30-19 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 05-29-19, 05:38 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Some years back I was surprised to learn that nylon degrades significantly with UV exposure, not that I tour enough to wear a tent out that way. Another thing about tents is that there's so many different features, it's not as if paying more automatically checks off all the boxes. IE free-standing vs staked for one. The Eureka I mentioned was semi-stealth olive drab. Many of the fancier tents are brightly colored which makes sense for back-country backpacking but not great for stealth-camping bike tourists.
totally agree there. the simplicity of the eureka models is something i like and think leads to fewer problems. some folks like fancy bells and whistles that you don't get from eureka, and i get that. agreed also about the color thing. my current tent is the sun "something or other" model, and it's bright orange. i miss my green one that was more camo'd. as a result, on my last few trips i have been taking the hammock and not the eureka because, like you, i like to be more stealth when i'm stealth camping!! hahah, but in the campground i don't care what color it is.

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Old 05-29-19, 06:51 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Weasel9 View Post
I work in the outdoor equipment industry, and I've been selling tents for years. When you look at two different tents, and one is $200 and the other is $400, there's a good chance that there's no quantifiable difference between the two. Tents have different features that will randomly affect the price. A $40 tent will probably just suck. Fiberglass poles, cheap fabric, and shoddy design will add up to a heavy, bulky tent that's hard to pitch. However, a $600 tent isn't going to save you from nuclear fallout, it's still just a nylon bubble held up by some poles.

As with anything you spend a couple hundred dollars on, the main thing you should approach a retailer with is a list of things you want. The tent with really great stitching, a giant vestibule, and packs down to the size of a churro may end up costing less(or more) than the one with a great footprint, double doors, and poles made of recycled space shuttles. If you ask a clerk which tent is the "best" he'll usually show you his personal favorite, or the one his manager told him he needs to move 60 of in the next week or they(along with him) will end up in the yard sale.

If you don't know what you want out of a tent, buy the cheapest tent in the "backpacking" category and you'll probably be happier than a clam.
This.
Anything under 100 ain't worth touching.
Always buy at the end of summer when you can get a $200+ tent for 50% off if you hunt well.
My personal opinion is for longevity the $200-300 tents are the go, usually strong but maybe a bit heavier and bulkier.
For lightness and smaller packed size more expensive tents are the go.
You can trade off, expensive larger tent that weighs the same as a cheaper one.

Things I think are essential and have used in anger:
External pitch, using either straps or a footprint. i.e. being able to put up the outer without the inner. So you can set up and pack down in the rain or set up a shelter for lunch.
Decent vestibules, one per person, symmetrical so there's no arguments.
Side vestibules, no crawling out the end over your gear.
Lots of mesh. Ventilation. You generally don't ride when the weather is freezing. Decent roof vents to reduce condensation if it is cold.
Bug proof.
Double ended zippers on the vestibule/s so the top can be opened for extra ventilation.

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. Do this and it'll be the floor failing that will see you replacing the tent. Eventually the PU coating will wear out and it'll start leaking.

One of my best touring tents for two was the Alps Mountaineering Chaos 2. $125 including the footprint. Floor started weeping after about 6 months daily use. Still might use it for the next tour, hopefully not much rain, dunno, risky.
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Old 05-29-19, 07:40 AM
  #42  
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Way to go Doug! You're rocking it! I like Your trip pics.



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. Eureka, like most manufacturers have tents in a range of costs and quality.





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Old 05-29-19, 07:44 AM
  #43  
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Pitching a tent under tree cover or at the end of the day and packing it in the morning greatly prolongs the life of your tent versus keeping it pitched throughout the day or sleeping in in the morning and packing it by 10 or 11 am. :-)




Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
This.
Anything under 100 ain't worth touching.
Always buy at the end of summer when you can get a $200+ tent for 50% off if you hunt well.
My personal opinion is for longevity the $200-300 tents are the go, usually strong but maybe a bit heavier and bulkier.
For lightness and smaller packed size more expensive tents are the go.
You can trade off, expensive larger tent that weighs the same as a cheaper one.

Things I think are essential and have used in anger:
External pitch, using either straps or a footprint. i.e. being able to put up the outer without the inner. So you can set up and pack down in the rain or set up a shelter for lunch.
Decent vestibules, one per person, symmetrical so there's no arguments.
Side vestibules, no crawling out the end over your gear.
Lots of mesh. Ventilation. You generally don't ride when the weather is freezing. Decent roof vents to reduce condensation if it is cold.
Bug proof.
Double ended zippers on the vestibule/s so the top can be opened for extra ventilation.

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. Do this and it'll be the floor failing that will see you replacing the tent. Eventually the PU coating will wear out and it'll start leaking.

One of my best touring tents for two was the Alps Mountaineering Chaos 2. $125 including the footprint. Floor started weeping after about 6 months daily use. Still might use it for the next tour, hopefully not much rain, dunno, risky.
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Old 05-29-19, 07:48 AM
  #44  
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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. Eureka, like most manufacturers have tents in a range of costs and quality.




Doug, that too is a neat photo, very impressive spot isnt it? Did you shovel out a bit to make the ground more level or were you listing like the Titanic inside (I suspect you shovelled, thats still angled quite a bit around the tent)
cheers
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Old 05-29-19, 08:03 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Pitching a tent under tree cover or at the end of the day and packing it in the morning greatly prolongs the life of your tent versus keeping it pitched throughout the day or sleeping in in the morning and packing it by 10 or 11 am. :-)
DO: be careful of deadwood in trees or dead-trees that may fall, especially in wind.
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Old 05-29-19, 08:45 AM
  #46  
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My cheap Kelty tent is very good and durable...but heavy.

My expensive REI tent is very light.

In summary: price is inversely correlate to weight.

Last edited by mtb_addict; 05-29-19 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 05-29-19, 08:47 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
My cheap Kelty tent is very good and durable...but heavy.

My expensive REI tent is very light.

In summary: price correlate to weight.
Another example of less-is-more
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Old 05-29-19, 08:59 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Pitching a tent under tree cover or at the end of the day and packing it in the morning greatly prolongs the life of your tent versus keeping it pitched throughout the day or sleeping in in the morning and packing it by 10 or 11 am. :-)
Ain't no way I'm getting up at 3am in northern Japan to save a tent! They should have two time zones but they don't.

Oh and always store tents loosely stuffed into a larger bag, not folded the same way. Even better if you have room to hang them up. Creases in the same area aren't good, nor are hard folds.

Last edited by Trevtassie; 05-29-19 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 05-29-19, 10:53 AM
  #49  
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When I bought a tent for riding the TD route a few years back, I opted for a Eureka Midori Solo. Ideally it would have been a DW Moment but the extra $200.00 would have only shaved off a tad over a pound. I liked the Solo so much that I picked up the 2 person version for my wife and I to use when bikepacking. The tub design is also a key feature if you get caught in torrential downpours.

But as mentioned... More $$$$'s means less ####'s
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Old 05-29-19, 11:14 AM
  #50  
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You guys are gonna make me want to check what Eureka has for tents just for $hits and Giggle$ :-) ... like I need another tent in the house :-)
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