Mom Goes Camping

Best Cheap Ultralight Tents for Backpacking

best cheap ultralight tents

I have a love/hate relationship with ultralight tents and backpacking gear. On one side, I hate how snobbish some people are about gear. Not everyone can shell out hundreds of dollars for UL gear, and they shouldn’t be made to feel bad for using whatever gear they can afford.

On the other hand, I’m a 110lb woman who goes backpacking with my young daughter.  Any weight I can shed from my pack is going to make the trip easier and more enjoyable.  Since we go backpacking often, it is worth it to invest in an ultralight tent.

However, there are actually a lot of great light tents out there which don’t cost a fortune.  They don’t have the brand-name recognition as some others, but are still reliable.


Quick Pick: Naturehike Cloud Up

The Naturehike Cloud Up 2 weighs just 3.75lbs with all extras included.  Despite being so cheap, the tent is surprisingly durable and holds up in bad weather.  (I’ve been using it for 7+ years now!)  It also comes in a 1p and 3p size. You can get it here.  Or read my full review of it here.

naturehike cloud up 2 review

My CloudUp 2P tent – it’s been to a lot of places! 🙂


Comparison Table

Naturehike CloudUp 1P51.2oz82.7x43.3"11
Naturehike CloudUp 2P60oz82.7x49.2"11
Naturehike CloudUp 3P84.6oz84.6x68.9"11
Naturehike Taga 2P49.2oz82.6x49.2"121-layer hybrid
Geertop 1P41.6oz83x35.4"12Trekking pole tent
Mier 1P32oz89.”x 29.5"11Trekking pole tent
Mier 2P44.8oz86.6x43.3”22Trekking pole tent
Naturehike Mongar 2P75oz82.7x53.1"22
Kelty Late Start 1P60oz85x40" 11
Kelty Late Start 2P72oz85x54"11
Kelty Late Start 4P110oz99x81"11
Kelty Mesa 2P76oz85x 57" 11


Warning before You Buy a Cheap Ultralight Tent

Most brand-name ultralight tents (like Big Agnes, MSR and NEMO) cost a small fortune.  However, there are lots of generic brands which make cheap ultralight tents.  You need to be very careful when buying from generic brands though!

Potential issues with generic tent brands:

  • The listed weight often doesn’t match the actual weight
  • Seams might not be taped
  • The materials could be complete crap
  • Waterproof level might be very low
  • No bathtub floor
  • The weight of the groundsheet and stakes often isn’t included.


If you buy a cheap tent which fails on you, then you’ve just wasted money.  You could end up spending more than if you’d shelled out for a pricier ultralight tent (hence the phrase “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap gear”). So, read reviews carefully before buying a cheap tent and don’t buy from new brands which aren’t user-tested!


Pro Tip: You can often get great deals on last-season’s UL tents at REI Outlet.  


Best Cheap Ultralight Tents

When looking for low-cost ultralight tents, I used these parameters:

  • Priced under $200
  • Under 4lbs for 1-person tents
  • Under 5lbs for 2-person tents
  • 3 Season
  • 2-layer design or 1-layer hybrid
  • Reputable brands

*The weights listed are for TOTAL WEIGHT with all pegs, mats, poles, and groundsheet. 


1. Naturehike Cloud Up (1p, 2p, 3p)

nature hike cloud up 2 ultralight tent

This is the tent that I have.  I’ve been using it for 7+ years now and it’s held up amazingly well.  It’s even kept me dry in some serious thunderstorms and a hail storm once!  Since then, I’ve even gotten two more Naturehike tents.  Their P-Series 4P is awesome for family backpacking.

The Cloud Up almost seemed too good to be true.  The 2-person tent only weighs 3.75lbs with the footprint and all extras.  It has a waterproof flysheet of 4000mm and the floor is also 4000mm.  The poles were a bit weird at first – they splay out very wide when pitching and it might be difficult in a tight spot. But pitching is fast and easy.

My only real complaints are that: the walls sag a bit and that you are supposed to sleep with your feet towards the door (which I don’t).  It’s also a tight fit inside.  My daughter and I fit fine in the 2P but, if you are larger, then you’ll want the 3P for two people.

*Note that there are different versions of the Cloud Up tent.  The GRAY tents are lighter weight.
**It’s possible to pitch just the groundsheet and fly of the tent without the mesh interior.  This setup is even lighter.


  • Total Pack Weight: 3.2lbs (1p), 3.75lbs (2p), 5.29lbs (3p)
  • Interior Dimensions: 83x39x40” (1p); 83x50x40” (2p); 85x71x43” (3p)
  • Vestibule
  • 20D rain fly and bathtub floor
  • Other: No pockets, has lantern hook
  • See It Here


2. Naturehike Taga 2

naturehike taga 2 ultralight

The Taga 2 is a knockoff of the Tarptent Double Rainbow tent, but at a much cheaper price. At 3lbs, the Taga 2 is very lightweight.  Note though that it is only so light because it’s a one-layer “hybrid” tent.  While the two vestibules do improve ventilation, you are always going to have condensation problems if you use a 1-layer tent in cold weather.

There are two vestibules with the Taga 2.  One is in front of the door.  The other vestibule is accessed from a “window” inside the tent.  The window also is good for ventilation.

Pitching the Taga 2 is somewhat annoying because it uses sleeves instead of clips.  This is just a small complaint though.


  • Total Pack Weight: 3lbs
  • Interior Dimensions: 82.6″(L) x 49.2″ (plus 2 vestibules of 21″ each) x41(H) inches
  • 20D nylon rainfly and bathtub floor
  • Two vestibule
  • Other: no pockets, lantern hook, one mesh pocket
  • See It Here


3. GEERTOP 42oz Trekking Pole Tent (1p)

geertop trekking pole tent

This is a trekking pole tent, meaning it uses two trekking poles to pitch.  Because you don’t need any tent poles, the tent is significantly lighter and also cheaper than other lightweight tents.  Just be warned that trekking pole tents are a bit tricky to pitch.  Read more about trekkingp pole tents here.

A cool feature of this tent is that you can use the fly by itself as a tarp tent (which would make it even lighter weight!).  This is good if you are interested in getting into tarp shelter camping but also want a full mesh interior option too.

As expected of a 1P tent, the Geertop is a bit cramped inside. But it has two vestibules.  You’ll be able to keep your gear outside instead of crowding it inside.  The floor of the tent is a thick 30D, 5000mm nylon, so you can skip on using a groundsheet.  It’s also really nice that there are two windows and doors.


  • Trekking pole tent
  • Total Packed Weight: 2.65lbs
  • Interior Dimensions:83(L) x 35.4(W) x 41.3(H)
  • 20D 3000mm silicon coated fly
  • 55D 5000mm bathtub floor
  • Two vestibules
  • Other: No groundsheet, two doors, storage pockets, requires trekking poles
  • See It Here


4. Mier Lanshan Ultralight (1p, 2p)

mier trekking pole tent

Here’s another trekking pole tent. It isn’t as light as the Geertop tent above, especially since the groundsheet isn’t included, but it has a better design that allows for more interior room.  It also has two doors and two vestibules, which will make storing gear and getting in/out easier.

The tent gets good reviews and is fairly easy to pitch.  You’ll probably want to buy the footprint for the tent too, which will add an extra 5.3oz to the total weight of the tent.


  • Trekking pole tent
  • Total Packed Weight: 2lbs (1p), 2.8lbs (2p)
  • Interior Dimensions: 89.7”x29.5”x49.2” (1p), 86.6”x43.3”x49.2” (2p)
  • 15D 6000mm bathtub floor
  • 15D 5000mm fly
  • Two vestibules
  • Other: Groundsheet (5.3oz) sold separately, two doors, storage pockets, lamp hangers, requires trekking poles
  • See It Here


5. Naturehike Mongar 2P

naturehike mongar 2p tent

At 4lbs 11oz, the Naturehike Mongar barely meets the lightweight requirements for a tent.  But, if comfort is a bigger priority to you than weight, it’s a good option.  The tent has a perpendicular roof pole, so you get more headroom throughout and no drooping walls.

The Mongar tent also has two doors and vestibules.  Each vestibule is 4.3×15.4 inches. Because of this, unlike most 2p tents, the 2P Mongar is actually suitable for two adults.

*Note the weight includes the stakes and groundsheet. The tent by itself is 4lbs.


  • Two-layer tent
  • Total Packed Weight: 4lbs 11oz
  • Interior Dimensions: 82.7Lx53.1Wx39.4H + two vestibules (15.4″ each)
  • 20D Nylon, silicone-coated
  • PU4000mm
  • Two vestibules
  • Other: optional large vestibule sold separately
  • See it here


6. Kelty Late Start (1p, 2p, 4p)

kelty late start lightweight tent

The Kelty Late Start tent comes in several different sizes.  Right away  you’ll notice that the tent is very heavy (it barely meets the lightweight definition). But this is because it uses 68D fabric — so you don’t need to be careful with it like UL tents which use fragile 20D materials.

The tent uses “pockets” instead of grommets to secure the poles to the corners of the tent.  This theoretically makes pitching by yourself a lot easier (I personally haven’t tried it).  But I’d be concerned about the pockets getting full of dirt.

On the plus side, the Kelty Mesa 2P is one of the few lightweight tents which has a dome pole structure, so you get good headroom inside.  It’s also one of the few lightweight 4p tents you’ll find. And Kelty is generally a good brand which makes durable tents.


  • Two-layer tent
  • Total Packed Weight: 60oz (1p), 72oz (2p), 110oz (4p)
  • Interior Dimensions: 85×40″ (1p), 85×54″ (2p), 99×81″ (4p) + vestibule
  • 68D walls, floor and fly


7. Kelty Mesa 2P Tent

kelty mesa 2p lightweight tent

Like the Kelty Late Start, the Mesa 2P is pretty heavy for its size. It is also made out of 68D material though, so will be very durable.  It also uses “smart pockets” for pitching and has a dome structure for good interior space without.

The main difference between the two Kelty tents is taht the Mesa is a dark color. The dark color is great if you like to sleep in late (I usually wake at 6am with the sun when backpacking :)), but would also be really dark if you needed to hide out in it during a rainstorm.


  • Two-layer tent
  • Total packed weight: 76oz
  • Interior size: 85″ long, 43″ at foot, 57″ at head, 43″ peak headroom, + vestibule
  • 68D Polyester walls, floor and fly
  • See it here


What About Buying Used Tents?

When I decided to upgrade to an ultralight tent, my first reaction was to look for something secondhand.  I started scouring the net for a Big Agnes.  I quickly gave up though.  Most of the used tents only had a slight markdown, which meant I’d still be paying close to $300 for a tent.  Plus, there was a surprising amount of competition.  Auctions on eBay had insane bidding wars!

Plus, I’m a bit squeamish about buying used tents because of a bad experience I had years ago.  The cheap used tent I bought was mostly fine.  But one of the pole was cracked and broke quickly.  There were no replacement poles available for this tent, so I had to rig it with tape.  No fun! I’d rather pay full price for a new tent than risk defects.


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backpacking dehydrator recipes ebook


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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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