This $120 Backpacking Tent Is the Best-Value Shelter on the Market
If you’re looking for the most affordable tent that can still perform, the Kelty Wireless 2 is a steal.
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You don’t need to go into debt to get equipped for your next big hike. Case in point: These 6 two-person tents, which are all light enough to take on the trail for your next adventure. Outside+ members can read the full review, along with everything else we publish. Not a member? Get a taste below with our review of the most affordable of the bunch.
Best Value Tent: Kelty Wireless 2
Overall: 4.2 / 5
$120; 7 lbs. 5 oz. Buy Now
If you’re looking for the most affordable tent that can still perform, the Wireless 2 is a steal at $120. Its 29 square feet of floor space is reasonable enough for two people, although it is necessary to take advantage of the tent’s 20 square feet of vestibule space—second-most in the test—to get all your gear out of the way. “If you have anything inside, it starts to feel a bit cramped,” one tester says. A 43-inch peak height helps offset claustrophobia.
At over 7 pounds and a packed size equivalent to two watermelons, this tent isn’t ideal for the backcountry (although it could work in a pinch, especially if split between two packs). The Wireless 2 forgoes interior pockets entirely, so you’ll have to settle for hanging your own gear nets from the provided ceiling loops. The price tag is the main feature here, so don’t expect anything flashy. “There are no bells or whistles,” one tester says, “but if you’re willing to get creative and don’t mind using the vestibules, the affordability is alluring.”
One reason this shelter is so heavy is its resilient materials. A 68-denier polyester fly and three thick fiberglass poles provide a rock-solid pitch once you reach your destination, with pole sleeves at each corner (as opposed to grommets) that pull the tent bottom taut and solidify its stance. “The Wireless stood tall against 25-mph gusts and its three-quarters fabric canopy provides good insulation,” our tester said after a breezy night on Oahu, Hawaii’s windward side. Kelty’s included aluminum stakes scored top marks as they refused to bend, even when hammered into rocks, but be careful with the plastic fly clips.
A three-quarter fabric, one-quarter mesh tent body offers additional protection from the elements when you’re not using the fly, preventing dust or sand from blowing inside. It also provides further insulation in cold temperatures. However, this design also lowers the tent’s breathability, and the Wireless 2 is susceptible to condensation. “The side walls were damp when we woke up, even though it didn’t rain,” our Hawaii tester says.