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Best beginners tent?

I want to start purchasing camping gear and have no idea what tent would be best.  It would be maybe 3-4 people at the most.  I would like it to be something that is easy to put up if I am by myself and something that would withstand wind/rain.  Weather changes so fast, I would like to not end up in a bad situation. I also do not have a lot to spend, so I would like to keep it below $250-$300. 


7 Replies

A 2 person tent is generally more comfortable for 1 person particularly in inclement weather.  Having two doors is a big advantage if you ever take a guest.

So called freestanding tents are usually the easiest to pitch since the poles shape the body and you only have to stake out the fly vestibules (assuming the tent has them)

This is a nice "beginner" freestanding tent that fits your budget that is even back-packable although at 4lb 11.5oz packed , it is on the heavier side for that. A footprint is included which is nice.

Not used it myself but reports are it is quite easy to set up.  The pole system is a fairly standard arrangement.  The only thing I personally am not a fan of is the non mirrored doors.

If you want something a bit nicer then this is one of the "best" tents.  The footprint is extra which makes it fairly expensive.

I realize it is out of you budget but it is useful to compare what you get for the additional money.  I have a prior generation of this tent.  There is a 1P version and a bike packing version (shorter poles and fancy bike friendly stuff sack).

If want something a little lighter (2lb 14oz packed) but a bit less expensive than the Copper Spur then this is a good choice and is only slightly more than your budget although the footprint is also extra.

However, being semi-freestanding it is more involved to setup (you have to stake the corners of the body) My daughter bought this tent and did not have any trouble but it is more challenging on rock or sand.  I have the similar Big Agnes Tiger Wall.

There are many other good tents.  Generally you pay more for less weight.

Oh I just saw you want a tent for 3-4 people so never mind...slightly different category.


@kandijamison  There is a 4 person model of the tent that @OldGuyot suggested (rei half dome) on the rei used gear site:

Getting used gear might be a good idea as you feel out exactly what you want in a tent, sleeping bag, backpack, etc. The 4 person half dome is pretty heavy, but should be fine if you’re car camping or can split the weight between a few people. If you plan on hiking and will normally be with just one other person I’d suggest the 2+ model. Additionally, if there is an rei close to you, you could rent these tents before deciding which you’d prefer to purchase in the future. 


I’ve been camping for many years many tents. Recently purchased Marmot Fortess 3 person. $300.00 price range, very roomy, very waterproof, 15 minute set up, weight 5.5 lbs, (2) vestibules. Worth taking a look at for you.


Purchase quality gear, maintain your gear, and it will perform many years.

My recommendation is the REI Half Dome + Series of tents. 

Vintage REI Half Dome 4 / Though advertised as a 3 Season Tent, this tent provided excellent performance during multiple wilderness snow camping adventures. Tough as nails durability. 
Purchased in 1984 / Retired from service: 2019.


REI Half Dome 4+ Purchased 2019 / Currently in service.

Radically improved, well thought out design for easy one person setup and protection from the elements, with added entry/exit features of 2 doors and vestibules.

Affixing the rain fly is a must, if you anticipate blowing dust/sand, or the threat of rain, because most of the actual tent, sans the tub, is no-see-um insect screen. 

During fair weather, without the rain fly, is an awesome, sleep under the stars with no mosquitos, experience.


Corazon (my camping companion) approved.

Note: I did upgrade the front door of my current tent, by sewing in place, a pet resistant screen:

Camping with Pets / REI Half Dome 4 + Tent Door Upgrade for Camping with Dogs!

Are you doing this for primarily car camping? (versus backpacking?)

REI Member Since 1979

Same question as Philreedshikes.  A tent for car camping can be bigger, heavier, and probably less expensive. A tent for backpacking will need to be lighter, smaller, and will therefore probably be more expensive. Decide between three person or four person. There is a big difference. If I were backpacking, or even car camping with three other people, I would prefer two two-person tents rather than a single four-person tent.

aka "Boonerelli"

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