To be honest, there are some tent brands that I would avoid.
That’s not to say they are categorically terrible, as different tent brands might be suitable for different situations.
For example, a budget pop-up tent might be awful for backpacking in the rain but it could be perfect for a kid’s slumber party campout in the yard.
An expensive four-season tent could be great for a cold-weather camping trip but horribly hot and sweaty if you use it in the summer.
So, I don’t want to rip apart anyone’s business by saying their tents are absolute rubbish. But I do want to help you make informed decisions before you waste your money or the earth’s resources on something that will end up in the trash.
In this article, I will tell you some of the tent brands that I would personally avoid. I will also give you some suggestions for trustworthy companies that make excellent gear.
Tents Brands to Avoid
I wouldn’t spend my money on one of the following tent brands. That doesn’t mean they are terrible for every situation, but I wouldn’t trust them to take care of me on my next camping trip.
1. S.Y. Home & Outdoor
I can see that these tents are cheaply made just by looking at them. Users frequently report that they break down after just a few nights’ use.
Sure, they aren’t expensive but do you want to spend your money on a ‘disposable tent’ instead of getting something you can use for years?
Zippers seem to break first with S.Y. tents, but the poles are soon to follow.
To be fair, these tents are light and easy to put up and down. So, they might be ok as a play tent in the yard for really gentle use.
Then again, are the kids really going to be gentle if they are using this as a fort? It’s a no from me.
2. Wakeman Outdoors
Wakeman Outdoors makes some cheap pop-up tents. To be honest, I wouldn’t go there.
They are tiny, so they’re more suitable for children than adults. They’re also cheaply made. (To be fair, they are also extremely cheap to buy, and you do get what you pay for.)
Wakeman Outdoors advertises their tents as suitable for backpacking, but they are actually way too big to go in your pack. They also tend to leak, and the zippers break quickly.
Quite a few people reported that their tents arrived with tears or broken parts, so there’s no way you can trust this thing to keep you dry or bug-bite-free.
I cannot understand why tent companies advertise their enormous, heavy tents as “suitable for backpacking and hiking.” Myuilor is one of many brands guilty of this.
Their four-person family tent is way too small for four people, but it’s too big to go in anyone’s backpack. It might be fine for camping on a site, but I can’t imagine it would last for very long before it broke.
It also seems quite cheeky to call this a four-season tent. There is no way I would take this thing out in the wind or rain.
First, it’s water-resistant only to 600mm, and second, the structure isn’t strong enough to withstand heavy wind.
A positive point is that it is easy to set up, but it’s not particularly easy to take down.
Once again, this brand makes very cheap tents. There seems to be a pattern!
Stansport tents aren’t the best. Some of their models are okay, but most of them have problems with condensation and weak zippers. The frames aren’t very strong, and tall people won’t lie down comfortably, even diagonally.
There seems to be an issue with expectations versus reality here.
One particularly disgruntled customer complained that a $33 model they bought last minute for a thru-hiking trip of the Appalachian trails wasn’t up to the job. I do have sympathy for this person, but at the same time…what did they expect?
If you buy an ultra-budget tent, it will not last long or look after you when it really counts.
Who Makes the Best Tents for Camping?
I keep saying that you get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy an uber-expensive tent to get a decent night’s sleep.
Honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything under $100 to last more than a handful of times. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it ripped right away or leaked on the first night.
But some pretty cheap tents would be fine for most people’s needs.
Here are a few examples.
Naturehike tents typically cost between $120 and $300. They are not the best choice for an arctic expedition, but they’ll be fine for a rainy camping weekend.
Naturehike tents are typically designed for backpacking or hiking, and they offer good quality for the price.
One of my first tents was a little Geertop model that cost me around $200. I was fresh out of college, so I didn’t have a load of spare money.
I used it for years, in all kinds of conditions. Sometimes it rained all week, and sometimes it was scorching.
My Geertop tent did remarkably well with everything thrown at it. It was used for a good month every year, for five years.
The poles started to bend at this point because I’d used it in some serious winds over the years, but it’s still in the family shed and makes an appearance now and then when we have a house full of guests.
Coleman tents are well priced for their quality. User reviews are positive, and the company sells some good-sized family tents.
The other two cheap brands I just mentioned are more involved in the hiking and backpacking space, so Coleman might be a good alternative if you are taking a trip with a large group.
Don’t expect Coleman gear to perform as well as a top-quality brand, but you can comfortably use it in the summer, and it’ll keep you dry so long as the weather isn’t too wild.
Top Rated Tent Brands
If cheapness isn’t your number one priority, some more expensive brands are worth the extra dollars.
The following tent manufacturers make high-quality equipment that you can trust to keep you warm and dry in terrible weather.
They are also going to last a lot longer than the cheaper alternatives.
Teton Sports makes some gorgeous canvas tents that are great for all weather conditions. In the summer, the tent walls are nice and breathable.
They will let fresh air filter through into your sleeping compartment while the bug mesh keeps biting insects at bay.
They will also keep you cozy in the winter, and they last for many years if people take good care of them.
The North Face
The North Face is a fantastic tent brand for winter camping trips. Their snow tents are of excellent quality, and they often come with safety features like snow hatches.
They are strong enough to withstand a heavy snowpack, and they will keep you much warmer than the cheaper alternatives.
If you’re going out in the winter, don’t take the risk of a ‘great value deal’ more seriously than your safety.
NEMO tents are another fantastic choice.
This company makes some enormous tents for family camping trips that perform particularly well in the wind and rain.
Users describe the NEMO brand as ‘bombproof,’ so they’re worth the money. But only if you can afford it!
If you’re considering getting a roof tent for your 4x4 vehicle, iKamper is the one that I would choose.
They are a real investment but the resale value is pretty good. This means you aren’t losing your money because you can cash in down the line if you decide you aren’t using it enough.
These roof tents are of outstanding quality, and they come with memory foam mattresses. Just bear in mind that they take a while to install the first time around.
If you’re planning to use one with your pick-up, you’ll have to install a frame for the roof tent to sit on.
If you buy the cheapest tent on the market, you can’t expect it to perform very well. These things cost only 50 bucks for a reason. You should hold off until you can afford something that will last ten times longer.
Naturehike, Geertop, and Coleman are good budget tent brands. They offer a reasonable balance between price and quality, but they aren’t going to be as good as the very best brands.
If you have the money to spare, I'd consider getting a Teton Sports, North Face, NEMO, or iKamper tent. You don’t have to spend this much money, but the quality of these brands does justify the price.
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Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.