Summer is coming and with summer, festival season starts too. Whether it is the T in the Park, or GreenMan in the Brecon Beacons, you are off to the IOW or heading to Glastonbury this summer, you are probably out on a hunt for a cheap festival tent.
I have found 6 (+1) cheap festival tents for 2 that I would buy myself any day:
- Eurohike Cairns 2 Deluxe Festival Tent
- Eurohike Backpacker Deluxe Camping 2 man tent
- Eurohike Tamar
- TRAIL 2 man double skin pop up tent festival tent
- Highlander Blackthorn 2 man hiking tent
- Vango Talas 200 Tunnel Tent
But the question is, what makes a normal tent a ‘festival tent’, or even, a good festival tent? Thinking of a suitable tent, apart from the price tag, weather is amongst the first factor you need to consider. There are two things you need to be prepared for: it is either going to be REALLY hot, or you are going to be hammered by rain. Or the combination of the two. What both have in common is that you need a quality tent on a budget.
(You can skip this part and go straight to the tents, I just wanted to share my thought process.)
Firstly, it needs to be cheap: £50 is a reasonable price, however most of the festival tents I will show are way below the 50 quid mark. I would not try to go too low (like £15), or if I did, I’d probably buy two of those straight away (and brought them both with me to wherever I go, so that I have a back-up tent).
Oh, the weather…
Secondly, it needs to be waterproof. Unfortunately, too many beach tents are sold as festival tents (just because they are cheap), but price is not the only one that makes a tent a festival tent.
Manufacturer’s usually give you a ‘hydrostatic head’ value in millimetres to show, how waterproof the tent canvas is. This basically tells you how much water the canvas can withhold for over a day. Everything above 1500mm HH is waterproof under normal circumstances. BUT, and it is a big but, if you ever slept in a tent you know that any canvas is only waterproof as long as nothing (or no-one) leans against it. As soon as you chuck your bag in the corner and it starts raining water will start sipping through the canvas. So, I aimed to select tents that are double layered or at least have a partial rain-cover.
Thirdly, I prefer tents that have a small enclosed porch, so you can leave you shoes/boots/wellies outside; and you will find them when you wake up.
I hope they come with instructions…
Fourthly, it must be easy to handle. This includes the way you carry it (I mean how big it is), its weight (I would not consider anything that is heavier than 5 kgs). How easy it is to pop up? I don’t mind hassling with the poles (however I much prefer inflatable tents), as long as there are not too many of them and it is ‘stupid-proof’. Set up time should not be more than 5-10 minutes, same stands for taking it down. Pop-up tents are way simpler to set up, but – it may be just me – it is much more struggle to figure out the way they go back into their bag. They come in a big rounded bag, which is less preferable when it comes to strapping it onto the backpack. I did not discount pop-up tents though…
The speed of light
Lastly; however, it would be the icing on the cake, it would be great if a festival tent would block as much light out as possible. In my experience it makes sleeping in the daylight much easier (and makes my headache much more tolerable) if there is as little light coming in as possible.
Cheap 2-person festival tents
As this is the low end of the tent market, I expected most of the tents to be rather small. Some are advertised as two-person tents, but in fact there is hardly any room in them for one and their backpack. What I found is that some are, surprisingly spacious for two, and you might even sleep a 3rd person in them (however that would required a more than friendly relationship between all parties).
Eurohike Cairns 2 Deluxe Festival Tent
The Eurohike Cairns 2 is normally way over £50, but it is currently on sale. In fact, Millets/Black’s eBay outlet is becoming my favourite go-to place, if I want to grab a bargain. So, it is within budget and you get a lot for your pocket-money. It is a fully waterproof (2000mm HH) double-skin dome tent with a small porch, there is ground sheet under the porch too. It is not a pop-up tent, but you can set it up in 5 minutes thanks to the colour-coded poles (and there are only 3 of them anyways).
The Cairns 2 deluxe is spacious: it has a large footprint, 195 x 228 x 110cm, but the sleeping area is ‘only’ 140cms wide. Having said that, it is bigger than my double bed at home, so it is more than comfortable for two people.
It packs up to a 57 x 14 x 14cm carry-bag, and only weighs 3.5 kg.
It comes in one colour though, I hope you have not got anything against blue tents. You can find more details and current price on eBay (click here).
Eurohike Backpacker Deluxe
The Eurohike Backpacker Deluxe is, again, deal of the day (sort of…). It normally costs three times the price it is selling for right now. The Backpacker Deluxe tent is designed with a large porch that provides plenty of space to store your backpacks (and much more…bearing in mind how much gear you may have when you are trekking / camping etc – those should fit in too). It has very good wind resistance thanks to the extra strong arch poles.
It is lightweight and easy to set up – there are only two (extra strong) arch poles. It is waterproof with 2000mm HH, however there is no groundsheet under the porch area. Just like the Cairns 2, you can start erecting the tent with the flysheet, so you don’t need to worry about the inner tent getting wet if you are pitching it up when it is raining.
It is very lightweight, under 3 kgs, and packs up to a 58 x 15 x 15 cm carry-bag. Yet it provides a reasonable sleeping space: on a 310 x 150 x 110cm footprint the sleeping area is 120 x 210 cm.
I hope you like this colour on the picture, ‘cause it is the only colour available (for this price).
You can find more details and the current price on eBay (click here)
The Tamar by Eurohike is very similar to the Cairns 2, but the Tamar is slightly bigger. It has a 255 x 165 x 105cm footprint, while the sleeping area is 210 cm long and 150 cm wide. It packs up to a 61cm x 13cm carry-bag, yet, it only weighs 3kg. It has a double-layer design to keep you dry, the canvas is made of 2000mm HH waterproof material. The porch area is spacious; however the porch does not have a ground-sheet.
The Eurohike Tamar comes in many different colours for a change, I am sure you’ll find the one that you like. Click the box below to find out more details about the Eurohike Tamar and to see what other colours are available.
TRAIL Pop Up Festival Tent
It is very easy to pitch the Trail festival tent as it is a pop-up design, ready to use in a matter of minutes. You just simply get it out of its carry-bag and peg it down with the steel pegs. It features a sewn-in groundsheet, durable taped seams, air flow vents and a zip-lock mesh panel to allow light in whilst keeping insects out. This tent has a double-skin design with a 2000mm HH index, so it will keep you warm and dry during heavy showers, making it a top choice for festivals. It also has a small front porch area to store dirty boots and other gear.
The footprint is 250 x 150 cm, the sleeping area is 132 x 210 cm, that is a comfortably spacious sleeping area for two people.
It comes in two colours – blue and purple – in a rounded carry-bag, so it may not be as comfortable to carry it around. This would not be a show-stopper for me though…
Click here for more details and the current price, it takes you straight to the eBay product page.
Slightly larger than the previous tunnel tents, there comes the Highlander Blackthorn camping tent. It is quick and easy to pitch (5 minutes), and it includes a compression stuff bag to ensure a small pack size. It has a side storage area, high visibility pre-attached guylines which aids pitching and gives extra visibility when trying to find your way ‘home’ in the morning.
It has a large front porch with taped groundsheet, and you can fold the rainfly back off the porch making it easier to get in and out when it is not raining. The tent is fully waterproof (2000mm HH), double-layered. You start pitching it up with the outer-layer so you don’t need to wait for the rain to stop. It provides a large sleeping pod on a 330x170x100 cm footprint: the sleeping area is 215x145x90 cm.
It is slightly cheaper in this ‘Hunter Green’ colour with orange trim, squeezing just under our £50 budget, but there is Camo version too for a few pounds more.
Click here for more details on the Hunter Green tent, or use the link above for the Camo version.
Vango Talas 200
The Vango Talas 200 is a bit of a red herring, slightly over our voluntary budget of £50. On the other hand, it features a high quality Vango Protex 70D polyester flysheet that is 3000 mm HH waterproof, a durable and reliable fabric. If anything, this tent will keep you dry in the worst English weather. The polyester groundsheet is robust, hardwearing and waterproof to 10,000mm; ideal fabric to stand up to the rigours of the most active of campers and festival goers.
While insulated from the outside, the inner tent fabric is made of breathable polyester that allows condensation to pass through, ensuring a comfortable sleep at any time of the day. The sleeping area is a bit cosy, only 210 long x 120 cms wide. The footprint of the Talas 200 is 290 x 130 cm, that includes the spacious enclosed front porch too, which sadly does not have a groundsheet.
Although it is simple and quick to pitch, you must erect the inner tent first which may be an issue if its raining. On the flipside, it allows you to use the tent without the flysheet if the weather turns hot.
Its packed size is 51 x 14 cm and it only weighs 2.1 kgs which makes it extremely easy to carry around.
It comes in this nice blue colour only, but if you would like to see the full specs on eBay, click here.
+1 Trail Hartland 4-Man Tent
This is the plus one as it is suitable for 2 + 2 people, 2 tents for 1 if you like. It is slightly over our budget though, but hey, don’t forget that it sleeps 4 people in their own 2 person sleeping pods…
The Trail Hartland has a double-skin design with a Hydrostatic Head of 3000mm for ultimate rain protection. The two separate sleeping pods face each other, enclosing a communal area that offers ample space for a table and chairs. The entrance door on the side of the tent can be propped up as a canopy to allow light in, whilst sheltering from the sun and rain.
The sleeping area is large enough for a double airbed (for seasoned campers), it measures 145 x 200 cm. Each bedroom has a zip-lock door for greater privacy. They also have pockets to store valuable and vents to maximise air flow. The Hartland 4 takes up a lot of green space, its footprint is 210 x 420 x 140 cm.
The tent also features high-visibility guylines, toggles to tie the doors up, and a storage bag with handle.
It may not be as easy to set up, but after all there will be 4 of you to figure it out…
The total weight of the carry-bag is only 6.6 kgs, which is obviously heavier than the weight of a single tent, but given its size, it is not a lot at all.
The only reason I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly is because of the customer reviews it gets: I strongly suggest you don’t leave it until the last minute to buy one if you like the design. It would then leave you enough time to figure out how to pitch it quickly, and to test it in rain: there are quite a few complaints on the poor-quality stitching and taping that leaks water in. Apparently, it is not a design flaw but the inconsistent quality of manufacturing, so make sure you try and put the tent to a bit of testing before taking all your friends to a festival in it.
My Personal Favourite(s)
Despite how much I love Vango’s inflatable tents, from this line-up of festival tents I would pick one of the Eurohikes (probably the Cairns 2), or the Highlander Blackthorne.
The Eurohikes give a much better value for the money (don’t forget they normally sell three times the price), they are spacious and easy to carry & easy to set up. They come with 30-day money back guarantee too, but I would have no doubt that they will do the job excellently.
The Highlander Blackthorne is made by a Welsh company, and somehow, I trust their expertise on how to make a waterproof tent… The fact that they are still on the market gives me enough confidence that their tents are of good quality, and most importantly, would keep me dry.
I would love to hear your experience with cheap festival tents! Please leave a comment!