Compare 17 cheap 2-person lightweight tents for backpacking and cycle touring The best ultralight freestanding camping tents, described in detail: specifications, waterproof rate, dimensions, etc. How to choose your new tent.
The world of lightweight tents is becoming bigger every day, along with the well-established brands producing backpacking, cycle touring, bikepacking, and ultralight tents in general, many new brands come out into the market every year, sometimes with innovative products, sometimes with reliable, cheap camping tents that won’t break your bank and still keep you warm and dry, ready for your next day hike or whatever.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about cheap 2-persons tents under 200$, so don’t expect to find the quality of a Hilleberg here. But still, the tents mentioned in this list are all well suited for bicycle touring, long hikes, and adventurous backpacking trips, they are almost all fully freestanding, meaning that they can be used on almost every kind of terrain or surface.
The lightweight tent comparison table should help you compare each model and hopefully make the right choice for your next purchase.
Let’s have a look at what factors you should consider when buying a lightweight tent.
Use: Bike Touring Tents VS Backpacking Tents
Although it may seem a specious distinction, the needs of a bike tourer are a bit different from those of a backpacker or hiker. First of all, the bicycle traveler usually has more gear, spares, tools etcetera add up to the bulk. So, an ideal bike touring tent should have large vestibules for gear storage.
Besides that, when bike touring you use your tent more. Your tent will be your home for most of your trip, especially if it is going to last a while, so you’ll want a comfortable and reliable home to live in. Adding a few hundred grams in exchange for a bigger and stronger tent might be a good choice in my opinion.
Backpackers tents, on the other hand, should ideally be ultralight and small when packed. The weight of your tent will be on your shoulders instead of a bike rack, and shouldn’t take too much space in your single piece of luggage, your backpack indeed.
Climate: 3-Season Tents VS 4-Season Tents
Although the quality, design, and materials of a tent make some difference in cold weather, make no mistake, what really keeps you warm during freezing camping nights is your sleeping bag (and your companion if you have any).
For most of the trips, a 3-season tent should be enough. With a decent sleeping bag, you should be able to stay warm down to 0°C, so if you don’t plan to venture in colder climates, you can go for a 3-season.
3-season tents are lighter and usually provide higher ventilation, if you plan to camp in really hot weather you’ll faint and be covered in sweat inside a 4-seasons tent.
But not all is bad about 4-season tents, if your average night temperatures are below 15°C, a 4-seasons will just provide a comfortable sleeping environment, without you needing to wear too many clothes.
Terrain: freestanding tents VS not-freestanding
Tents can be free-standing (no need to pitch it to the ground), half-free-standing (only need a few stakes), or not-free-standing (doesn’t stay up if not pitched).
We suggest to absolutely avoid not-free-standing tents like this, it’s very common to find perfect sheltered camping spots where is impossible to plant a stake (or peg), it may be concrete, wood or whatever (like for example the magical gazebos of Korea, or porches of the Shinto Shrines in Japan), you can also find kinds of soil where pitching is really complex, like hardened soils or sand.
We suggest taking with you a half-freestanding tent like this (you can use ropes and tight it somewhere), or even better a completely free-standing one like this (the super expensive tent of my dreams). Don’t forget also to bring a few spare pegs (stakes), soon or later you’re going to lose at least one.
Almost all the tents listed here are 80-100% freestanding, some need stakes just for the vestibules.
Another important factor to take into consideration when choosing a camping tent is the possibility to pitch its inner igloo alone, without necessarily needing to put the fly on it.
Pitching the just the inner tent is great in hot weather and, if the tent is mostly made of mesh fabric, can allow some great stargazing without being bothered by mosquitos.
Living Space: 1-man tent VS 2-person tents VS 3-person tents
One could assume that a 2-person tent is good for 2 persons but that’s not always true. Depending on how much time you’ll spend into your tent, a tight living space may result in a loss of comfort and a drop of your love for camping.
We would advise taking with you the most spacious tent possible, especially for bike touring, when weight is less a concern than when backpacking.
25 inches (63cm) per person is what is usually considered enough width for one person, but it’s honestly a bit too narrow in my humble opinion, particularly in hot climates.
My 2 cents is to consider at least 70cm (28″) per person, the wider the better, especially if you plan to keep some gear inside with you.
Since some of the lightweight tents listed here are narrower than that, you could think about getting the 3-person version, which is available for many of these models.
Another important and often overlooked spec is the length of the tent. Although 210cm (85″) may seem enough, keep in mind that this information indicates the length at floor level.
Depending on the design of the tent, if the walls are very slanted this length might be much shorter at your head’s height, resulting in it touching the walls, which is not pleasant. Consider buying a longer tent if you are a tall person.
The elements: waterproofness, wind resistance, and snow handling
About waterproofness rate, we quote from MSR website:
“A fabric’s waterproof rating, measured in millimeters (mmH20), refers not to the thickness of the fabric or its polyurethane (plastic) coating but to the pressure at which water is able to press through the fabric. The standard waterproofing test involves applying water pressure behind a fabric sample until 3 drops of water are able to pass through the fabric.
For example, a 1500 mmH20 rating means the fabric can sustain 1,500 mm of water on top of the fabric before it can leak.
The measurement can then be converted into pounds per square inch (a 1,500 mmH20 rating would translate into 2.18 psi).”
So how many millimeters of waterproofing do you need?
The short answer is, not always a lot. A point of comparison is an umbrella, which you might assume to be a good example of waterproof protection.
Umbrella fabric in our hydrostatic head tester resulted in a rating of just 420 mmH20, showing that a bigger number is not always needed when it comes to keeping you dry. So then why do tents have waterproofing ratings of 1,000-10,000 mmH20?
Part of the reason has to do with the greater durability that thicker waterproof coatings with higher waterproofing ratings often provide (up to a point—more on this topic later). But because an umbrella is held aloft, it doesn’t typically see the kind of abrasion that, say, a tent floor might undergo.
This minimal abrasion helps explain why tarps can offer waterproof performance at a lower rating than tents, which often require more coating to compensate for wear and tear
Wind resistance instead, is given by a few factors, mostly the strength of the poles, the quality of the stakes, and the aerodynamics of its design.
While a tall tent might seem very comfortable, if the walls are too vertical is more than likely that it will be blown off by strong gusts of wind. Be sure to properly pitch your pegs if you expect strong winds. Learn more about wind resinstance here.
4-season tents are designed to withstand heavy snow loads, they usually have even more slanted walls to avoid the snow piling on the top.
What are vents and footprints?
Some tents have one or most commonly two vents in the rain-fly, they are meant to improve the ventilation and might be very important to avoid condensation.
The footprint is an additional sheet to put between the tent’s floor and the ground, to provide better insulation and avoid the terrain’s asperities tearing a hole into the floor’s fabric.
Compare the best lightweight tents for two-persons under 200$
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2
Hyke & Byke Zion 2P
Mountainsmith Lichen Peak
Hyke & Byke Yosemite
Naturehike Cloud-Up 4 Season
Eureka Midori 2
TETON Sports Mountain Ultra
Featherstone Outdoor UL 2
North Face Stormbreak 2
Marmot Crane Creek
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2-Person Tent
Alps Mountaineering is a well-established brand from Missouri, they manufacture high-quality gear since 1993. Their Zephyr has been tested by many backpackers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The geometry is different from the classic two-person lightweight tents, and it looks designed to withstand strong winds. Walls made from mesh improve air circulation, preventing condensation from collecting inside the tent. The tent is pretty wide to fit two persons comfortably, but for those who need even more space, a 3-persons tent version is available.
Hyke & Byke Zion 2P Two Person Lightweight Tent and Footprint
Hyke & Bike is an outdoor brand based in the US, there is a lot of information about them on their website which makes them easier to trust. They are also involved in charity and microloans and seem to have an ethic corporate profile.
The Zion is a pretty standard freestanding two persons tent, based on a single pole. It comes with a footprint, inner walls completely made out of mesh fabric and a waterproofness rate of 3000mm. The stakes’ quality looks higher than the standards for this price tag, there’s also a stake presser included.
This tent is huge! With a flor of 110 x 60 inches and a top height of 45 inches this lightweight backpacking tent makes sure you won’t feel like a sardine. IF that’s still not enough they also make a 3-person version, and even a 4-person family tent.
The Morrison 2 was awarded “2011 & 2012 Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide – KILLER DEAL!” and “2011 Outside Magazine – KILLER VALUE!”, which should say something about the tent’s quality.
The inner tent is not entirely made of mesh fabric like many other tents in the lightweight scenario, which it probably makes it less breathable but also warmer.
Hyke & Byke Yosemite Two Person Backpacking Tent with Footprint
We already mentioned we like Hyke & Byke philosophy and their way of making cheap high-quality outdoor products. This Yosemite model is indeed one of the cheapest lightweight tents on the market.
It still though has a hi-rated waterproof floor (PU5000), comes with an included footprint, and features two large doors and standard vestibules. It weighs slightly more than the Zion 2P but has an inner length of 223cm, which makes it a great choice for the big guys.
Our four seasons pick, the NatureHike Cloud Up is what we got for ourselves and we’ll be using on our next Nordic trip. NatureHike is a Chinese brand which is quickly making his way in the outdoor world thanks to the high quality of their products, their low price tags, and a great customer service.
The inner igloo is made of high-density mesh and nylon fabric and it ensures breathability, while the fly comes in two options, with a skirt for real winter use, and without it.
The two-person version of this tent is not 100% freestanding, requiring two stakes for tensioning, the 3-person version though is fully freestanding (that’s what we’ve got). Overall this is one of the best budget backpacking tents, and certainly the best Naturehike tent so far.
Eureka! Outdoors might not be the most famous outdoor brand, but this company from Dubbo, New South Wales has been around since 1885! Their story goes through the World Wars, when they were making tents for military camps, and the list of tough expedition their gear has undertaken is long and compelling.
The Midori is a very spacious 2-person lightweight tent, fully freestanding and perfectly suited for bike touring, backpacking, and even ultralight bikepacking. If 140cm of width are not enough for you, there’s also a very light 3-person version.
This sister of the Midori, the Eureka! Soma, is even lighter but it sacrifices one door and one vestibule. It packs small and has a simple, freestanding, reliable design. A 3-person version is available.
Teton Sports is an outdoor gear manufacturer based in Utah, USA. The Mountain Ultra 2 tent is a two-person tent that provides the perfect ventilation, featuring top cutaway vents to reduce the condensation build up. It features a high-rated waterproof bathtub floor, reinforced, heat-taped seams and anchor points.
It looks easy to set up, and well built, backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty. It might be the heaviest tent on this list but is also the biggest, with a width of 160cm and a top height of 114cm! There’s also a 3-person version available.
Featherstone Outdoor UL 2 Person Ultralight Backpacking Tent for 3-Season
There’s not much information about Featherston outdoor on the web, so I can’t say if it’s a trustworthy brand or not, but this good-looking tent seems pretty decent and comes for an incredibly cheap price.
With a trail weight of nearly 3.8 lbs, it seems a truly lightweight option for a two-person backpacking trip or bicycle touring expedition. Two Vestibules provide a great amount of Storage Space for your camping gear. Two wide doors add convenient entry and exit.
The inner igloo walls are completely made out of mesh fabric, which should ensure high breathability. It comes with footprint included. Like all other tents here it’s fully freestanding, requiring stakes only for the vestibules.
Who doesn’t know The North Face? The Californian based trade-mark is not only the most famous outdoor brand in the world but also among the most renowned clothing companies.
The Stormbreak 2 is a basic lightweight hiking tent with two wide vestibules and a simple and effective design. Unfortunately, The North Face only provides information about the floor area, without indicating the width and length of it.
As far as I can tell most of The North Face products are made in China, at least those with lower price tags like the Stormbreak 2 tent.
Another well-established and popular outdoor brand, Marmot products making up 95 percent of sales are made in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras, with only the high-end mountaineering products made locally to ensure top quality in extreme-weather environments.
The Marmot Crane Creek is a sturdy, well-built, essential 2-person lightweight tent well suited for bike touring, hiking, and backpacking. It’s not the lightest neither the biggest in this list but, if the brand authority still means something, it should be a reliable option. A 3-person version is also available.