When buying a tent, be sure to avoid these tent brands to keep you safe from the elements on your explorations outdoors (and avoid waking up in a puddle)! These tent brands to avoid may not hold up to the stresses of the rain and wind so opt for one of our recommended brands instead!
Tent Brand Tips
When shopping for a new tent, keep these three tips in mind to avoid poorly manufactured or overpriced tents:
- Opt for specialized retailers. Whether online like backcountry.com or in-person at stores like REI, try to find outdoor-focused retailers to avoid poorly developed house brands found at Target and other general stores.
- Check repair and service policies. Good tent brands will back their products with a robust repair or replacement program. Many brands have lifetime service warranties or low-cost repair departments, just take a quick look online or ask a store associate for more information.
- Check trusted reviews. While online reviews can’t always be trusted these days, using trusted blogs and other gear review sites to find recommendations
Camping Tent Brands to Avoid
Sierra Designs at Target
This one is difficult because the Sierra Designs brand is usually fairly good, the problem is their Target products. The line of tents sold exclusively at Target were made to sell at 1/4 of the price of the normal brand. They clearly needed to cut corners to meet these price points and the result is a poorly developed tent that likely won’t get you through your first storm.
For an alternative at budget price points – try Coleman instead!
Ozark Trail is Walmart’s favorite outdoor brand with dome tents as low as $34 all the way up to massive cabin tents for 14 people at somehow only around $150. These prices are unfortunately too good to be true, Ozark Trail tents are great for playing in the backyard but will quickly fail you if you are hit with an unexpected storm in the outdoors.
The prices are attractive but to get to that point, they have had to cut corners on waterproofing, fabric strength, and stitching quality making this one of our tent brands to avoid.
For an alternative brand that makes large tents, check out Kelty!
Stansport makes some good options in camping cookware but their tents do not hold the same quality. Priced at concerningly low prices, these tents have both outdated designs and use low-quality materials which makes them a definite tent brand to avoid until they make some real changes to their strategy.
The most unfortunate part about the designs and materials is that they lead to higher tent weights even for their backpacking tents.
For better backpacking tents at a more realistic price, check out NatureHike!
Wakeman Outdoors manufacturers a line of pop-up tents at extremely low prices. Pop-up tents have become more common for beginner campers in recent years as the designs have been improved to be more reliable and slightly less clunky.
Unfortunately, Wakeman’s biggest issue is how they react to rain. Many of their pop-up tents only use a single-layer design which is far more likely to leak during a storm. These tents are also smaller than most other brands which makes for an uncomfortable time when you need to spend long hours sleeping within.
For a better pop-up budget brand, check out the Coleman Pop-Up tent. For a premium pop-up option, Gazelle makes a great tent you can stand in that sets up in seconds.
How to Select the Right Tent Brand for You
Now that you know which tent brands to avoid – how do you find the right tent?
Type of Tent
There are a few types of tents to select from, primarily based on how many people you need to pack inside and how you’ll be getting to your campground. Almost all of these brands make both car-camping tents and more specialized backpacking tents. Backpacking tents will prioritize shaving weight down by saving space and reducing peak heights while car camping tents will be more spacious, taller, and will likely be heavier given the extra materials.
While lighter might always sound nicer, if you are going to be car camping most of the time – you may be completely fine with a mid-weight option. Weight needs should be prioritized for backpacking but families don’t need to worry as much unless you have a long trek from the trunk to the site! Poor tent brands will cut corners to save on weight and boost their specifications on-paper.
The easiest way to filter down all of the options available within each brand is to consider how many people you’ll need to fit in the tent! Don’t forget to add at least one extra ‘person’ to consider your gear, especially in some of these tent brands to avoid.
If you use your tent regularly, it is highly likely that you will need to repair it at some point for small rips or tears. Be sure to consider what the repair or return policy is for each brand. Some of the best tent brands have a better brick-and-mortar presence (like REI or the widely distributed Coleman & Kelty brands) compared to online-only brands and retailers (like NatureHike and Backcountry.com)
Differences Between Premium Brands and Tent Brands to Avoid
The main surface-level difference between a premium and budget brand is going to be their price. Budget brands have a price floor starting at $100 or under while budget brands’ most basic tent will usually be $200+. The tradeoff of spending half the price is usually going to be less reliability and longevity. The best premium tent brands should be able to hold up to tough circumstances, heavy storms, and offer more spacious interiors at lower weights.
Beginners are certainly ok going with any of our favorite budget tent brands below while anyone looking to use a tent for more than a couple of years in a row should stick to the premium brands for the best results and bang for your buck. Not all budget brands are created equal – stay away from most ‘house’ brands from generic retailers like Walmart and Target. Focus your search on more reputable outdoor budget brands like Coleman and Kelty for a similar price range at higher quality.
Now that you know which tent brands to avoid and how to find the right tent for you – Head over to see our favorite tent brands or use our tent finding tool to narrow in on your perfect home away from home!