13 Best Backyard Camping Tents: Free, Inexpensive, Open, Or Authentic

Want to camp in the backyard, but aren’t sure what kind of tent to use? You’ll find numerous options here!

The best camping tents for your backyard include options that range from the simple A-frame tarp tent to the incredibly glamorous Kodiak canvas tents, as well as some great options in between like the Coleman dome tents, Kelty Grand Mesa, and more.

These are just a few of the 13 backyard tent options I’ve compiled for you. Continue on and you’ll learn what makes each one unique. Then you’ll be ready for the perfect backyard camping trip!

What Makes a Tent Great For The Backyard?

There are plenty of reasons you might need to opt for a camping trip in your backyard rather than one in the greater outdoors. Whether that’s due to an external reason or just because you don’t have the time to travel somewhere, you can still have a great time camping in the backyard.

If you already have a tent that you use for camping regularly, you can definitely use that in the backyard if you want to. However, that may not always be the case. Those who don’t have a tent may not want to purchase a pricey one just for spending a few nights in the backyard.

In other instances, you may want something you won’t have to worry about taking down for a while. Whatever your needs are for your backyard-friendly tent, you can find some fantastic options here.

While you’re camping in the backyard, you may need some outdoor activities to enjoy to keep the experience authentic. To find some great outdoor games that will work perfectly in the backyard, take a look at our article on the subject here.

Best Free and Inexpensive Backyard Tents

Sometimes, you just need to get out. If you’ve been cooped up in your home for too long, a little backyard camping trip can be a great way to shake things up.

Not everyone has or wants to purchase, a tent just for staying a night in their backyard. Luckily, you don’t have to. With some handy tools like tarps, sheets, or some canvas, you can DIY a free or inexpensive shelter on your own.

The A-Frame Tarp Shelter

If you don’t normally camp often, but just need to find a way to get out of the house, a tarp shelter can be a very inexpensive way to do it. This kind of shelter is also a great choice if you have a tent that takes longer to set up and you just don’t want to deal with a longer process.

All you need to set up an A-frame tarp tent is a tarp, a rope, and some stakes. If you have some trees in your backyard that are suitable for tying the rope too, that’s great! Otherwise, you can also make due with other sturdy objects like fences or even parts of your house.

After throwing the tarp over the rope, you’ll need to spread out the corners and get them grounded. If you have a tarp with some convenient holes or loops, then stakes will be the best way to do this. In other cases, you may also just need to use some rocks or other heavy objects to keep the sides pinned down.

This video is a great place to start if you prefer some instructions that are a bit more visual.

A-Frame With a Sheet

If you don’t have a tarp on hand, something like a blanket or sheet can also work in a pinch. If you’re going to take this route, it will be worth keeping in mind that you probably won’t have any protection from the rain without a tarp. However, if you’re just planning to have a nice night or two out under the stars in nice weather, that may not be an issue.

Similarly to the A-frame tarp, you’ll need a taut rope for this one. Another difference you might find is that most blankets don’t have holes for stakes to go through. Odds are, you won’t want to destroy the blanket by putting holes in it. Instead, find some heavy objects to place on the sides to keep the makeshift tent in place.

DIY Teepee

Those who want to use a bit more creativity can consider making a DIY teepee that they can camp in the backyard with. It can make for a fun project whether you have children who want to get out of the house or want to make a larger version for yourself.

With the help of this YouTube video, you can easily make your own camping teepee with some canvas, ropes, wood, and staples. It doesn’t take much to make, but keep in mind that it may not be quite as durable as a tent designed for frequent outdoor use. It all depends on the effort you put into it and the materials you use.

Open Tent Setups

Since you’re camping in the backyard, you may not want a fully enclosed tent. Maybe you just want to lay some sleeping bags in the grass and enjoy the natural space around you.

The good news is there are some extremely easy ways to make an open-space shelter. Take a look below for some great methods.

Try a Pop-Up

Many campers already have pop-ups on hand that they use for the outdoor areas they want to hang out in. If you happen to have one already, then there’s no reason it couldn’t be used as an open-space tent to protect you from sunlight or a bit of rain.

Once you get the pop-up in place, all you need to worry about is covering the ground. You can use blankets, an air mattress, or whatever else you may want to use for sitting, sleeping and hanging out comfortably. As long as you have at least a couple of family members who can help out, setting up and taking down the pop-up can take just a few minutes.

Open Tarp Shelter

A tarp can also be useful in creating a more open space if you don’t want a tightly-enclosed tarp tent. As long as you have four sturdy objects that you can tie the corners to, setting up this kind of shelter isn’t difficult at all. All you need is your tarp and a few ropes.

Tie each corner tightly to something sturdy, and the tarp will work as a basic shelter. It’s not going to guard you against wind or heavier rain, but sunlight and drizzles won’t be too much of an issue. Then you can place whatever you want on the ground underneath for the perfect backyard camping trip.

Use an Awning

Another convenient way to get some quick shelter is just by making use of an awning. This is a less common option, as awnings are often connected directly to a house or something like an RV. However, they are worth trying out if you happen to have one.

It may feel a little less authentic to “camp” on your patio or deck, where awnings are often located, but it’s still more of an adventure than staying inside! With a handy air mattress or two, you can really change things up without having to leave your home at all.

Best Affordable Backyard Tents

Using an actual tent can make your time spent camping in the backyard feel much more authentic. While using a DIY setup can be more convenient, an affordable tent really helps to add some authenticity to the outdoor fun.

Instant tents can be among the most affordable options out there. They are often easy to set up and work well for casual campers. What should you know about instant tents? Are they worth buying? Learn more about the pros and cons of instant tents here.

Check out these affordable tent options for your backyard camping adventure.

Coleman 4-Person or 6-Person Tents (Dome)

Coleman is a manufacturer that most campers know well. It’s a brand known for providing a number of different outdoor products, including some great tents. Coleman tents often create a great middle-ground between affordability and durability.

Because of that, those who want an experience that is a little more authentic for their backyard camping excursion can pick up a Coleman dome tent at a very fair price. These tents are easy to set up, care for, and use whether you’re out in the wilderness or right in your backyard. A great example of a nice 4-person dome tent is the Coleman Skydome (Dick’s Sporting Goods).

The dome-style tents from this brand are especially affordable, and can easily provide space for the whole family. However, keep in mind that they often aren’t very tall. This can make it tricky if you want a tent you can hang out or change clothes in easily.

Coleman Cabin Tents

The Coleman dome tents might be a slightly more affordable option, but they can result in a less authentic experience if you end up having to run into your house to change every day. On the other hand, the Coleman cabin tents like the Tenaya Lake (Amazon) are a little bit more costly, but they allow you to have an easier time moving around the tent.

Much like the dome Coleman tents, the cabin tents provide options that can range from 4 people and above. So those who want to camp in the backyard with their whole family can have a much easier time pretending to be on a camping trip without getting in each other’s space too much.

2-Person Tent Options

You can save more money by aiming for a 2-person tent option if you want to camp in the backyard on your own or with just one other person. Naturally, the tent is going to be much smaller but that also means saving some money.

You can also use this option even if you are camping with more family members. You may want some space from others at night, or the kids may want a tent to themselves. More tents can also help to block the view of the house a bit more so that you actually feel like you’re out on a camping trip.

Authentic Tents You Can Use In Your Backyard

There’s no reason not to give yourself everything you need to feel like you’re really out in the wilderness. Even if you’re just camping in your backyard, you can really gain a lot from giving yourself an authentic experience. The following are some tents that can add to the authenticity and make your backyard camping trip more fun.

Kelty Grand Mesa

What sets the Grand Mesa apart from many other tents out there is that it’s almost entirely see-through with the rain fly off. Because of that, it makes for a great tent for those who like to see the stars at night. When you want more privacy, it also includes a rain fly you can use to guard against wind or rain (and peepers).

The Grand Mesa can be purchased in both 2-person and 4-person varieties, so you can get plenty of space as long as you’re not planning on packing it with people. With a simple setup process, it won’t take long before you’re fully enjoying the great outdoors (or your backyard).

Kelty Late Start

When you’re just setting something up in your backyard, you may not want to spend a long time doing it. The Kelty Late Start is the perfect tent for those situations. It’s designed to provide a little more ease to campers who can’t reach their destination until later in the day, or those who want to sleep in and still be able to get their tent packed up before they need to leave.

Because of the quick-setup design, it’s easy to set up or break down in a matter of minutes, even in your backyard. Much like the Grand Mesa, this tent also allows you to watch the stars as you rest inside, or you can cover it up for complete privacy. The Late Start offers size options for 4 people, 2 people or just a single person.

Glamping In Your Backyard – Premium Camping Tents

Just because you’re opting to spend some time outdoors doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rough it. If you’re someone who prefers a bit more comfort no matter where you’re camping, here are a couple of tents that will suit your needs perfectly.

Coleman 10-Person Tents

Whether you have a larger family, or just want to spend more time comfortably lounging in your tent, a 10-person tent is ideal. Coleman also offers some great 10-person tent options, like the Dark Room (Dick’s Sporting Goods) or here (Amazon), for very fair prices. Naturally, they’re going to cost more than smaller tents but you’ll get a whole lot of luxury in return.

On top of providing you with extra space, this particular tent works harder to keep the outside light out. That feature can be even more helpful when you’re trying to keep out the lights of the neighborhood when you’re camping in your backyard.

Kodiak Canvas Tents

Canvas tents are the height of luxury when it comes to camping anywhere – even in your backyard. One of the top canvas tent brands is Kodiak, which offers canvas tents that range from about the size of a standard 4-person cabin-style tent (Amazon) to the Cabin Lodge Tent (Kodiak’s Website), which might as well be an actual cabin.

Here’s the standard 4-person tent set up as well as what it looks like:

If you aren’t familiar with using canvas tents, it’s worth knowing that these tents can take longer to set up. However, they are also made to be extremely durable, so you can leave them in place for days and they won’t receive too much of an impact from the weather.

When you want to get out of your home, but prefer to stay as comfortable as possible, a Kodiak Canvas tent is the prime choice. There are many people out there who swear by canvas tents, even though they may take a bit longer to set up. If you’re curious about buying a canvas tent, take a look at our article on what makes canvas tents great here.

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